DISTRACTED: Another Set Design

The play Distracted by Lisa Loomer had it’s Iowa premiere on Friday, April 26 at the Des Moines Civic Center’s Stoner Theatre.  Produced by Stage West (a local resident theatre company), the play features my set design.  The play is a fast-paced examination of the diagnosis ADHD (Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder ) and the impact that this disorder has on the community, the family and the individual with this diagnosis.  The scenes move from the kitchen of  nine-year old Jesse’s home to various doctor’s offices, clinics, to the car, a neighborhood street and even to Mom & Dad’s bedroom.  The challenge that director Deena Connoly and I faced was to create a setting where the scenes could bounce effortlessly from scene to scene so as to maintain the necessary pace.  Our solution is a simple unit set with a few items of furniture that can be easily manipulated by the actors and a series of projections (described in the script).


The initial set sketch shows the use of some wall elements that I intended to recycle from Theatre Simpson’s Fall production of Alice’s Trip.  A simple raised platform is anchored by a kitchen counter and a few simple items of furniture (a table, 2 stools, 3 kitchen chairs and a pair of office chairs that could be rolled on and off as needed to establish offices) are the main elements.  Visible above and between the back wall elements is an irregularly shaped projection screen.  Two identical screens over the center seating area provide audience on the sides with mirrored images from the central screen so that the media on the screen will have the hoped-for impact on them.DistractedS13StgWest3-19-13Plan

The Plan shows some changes to the initial idea with the refinement of the raised platform to include a section that is 12″ off the stage floor on SL to accommodate the addition of Dad’s reclining chair (The only element that doesn’t matchy-matchey the rest of the setting).  The counter and its lower platform have also been refined so that behind the counter on the platform, the counter is a table height or 30 inches, while the downstage side of the counter is at counter-height of 36″.  The shape of the counter has also been adjusted so that it may momentarily serve as the bed for a scene taking place in Mom & Dad’s bedroom.

Also show in the plan is the placement of the projection screens and their associated projectors.  While I made it clear to the producer and production manager when I was engaged that we would need someone to design the projections and to work out the equipment and software issues (as well as other technical issues relating to the image manipulation and projection) I was expected to work out many of these details.

EmptySetInPreshowWithSetProjectionThe photo of the set under pre show lighting shows the finished set and features a central projection slide that I designed to reflect the paint treatment of the set itself.   Below is a series of other images from the production.

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

Father's Chair

Father’s Chair

An Office -- 2 of the screens

An Office with 2 Screens

The Classroom

The Classroom

New Mexico Clinic

New Mexico Clinic

Jinx Explains the Brain

Jinx Explains Brain


These photos illustrate a variety of ways in which the staging and lighting and slides transform the stage from one scene to another.  Image selection and creation was a collaborative effort between myself, director Deena Conolly and the projections consultant/engineer Elizabeth Ballstadt.

Next time, I will talk readers through the fast and relatively easy paint technique that I used for the finishes on this production.

Meanwhile, that’s enough for now! Have fun!  But be safe!



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