Designs for Lysistrata Jones

I realize that the summer has passed and we are already past mid-terms .  I have been remiss at making entries in this blog.  Here at Theatre Simpson we have just begun technical rehearsals for a production of Lysistrata Jones.  The production provides a number of challenges to a program as small as ours, not the least of which is the wireless miking of 12 cast members and 2 backup singers and the accommodation of a small rock band onstage to accompany the singers.

Following are some further thoughts about the production:LysistrataRoundHelmentLogo3

Lysistrata Jones

Even though we are staging the production in a theatrical space (after discarding the initial impulse to stage the production in an authentic gymnasium space due to logistical impediments), we intend to capture the essence of an actual gymnasium in the environment of the setting

To that end, the basic unit  consists of a central, upstage, raised area, resembling the overhead running track found in the local 20s-era gym.  The small band and musical director/conductor will play attop this space,y along with a couple of backup vocalists.

This balcony will appear to be supported, in part, by six steel truss-style columns rising from the stage floor to an overhead  steel roof truss.  Suspended from the truss on either side of the stage will be a pair of simple scoreboards (one for the home team and the other for “visitors”) Beneath the balcony will be a large open span flanked by sections of cinder-block wall  providing the actual support for the overhead platform.

Downstage of the balcony, the floor will resemble and function a half-court basketball floor. It will be painted with a central “keystone” facing a backboard and basket affixed to the upstage balcony rail.  A pair of self-supporting basketball backboards and “hoops” will also flank the playing area to add staging variety.  Downstage of the basketball floor, a run of two, wide steps leading to the playing circle and the central vommitory will allow for additional staging options while paying homage to Greek architecture.


Mixed Media Rendering of Set (Watercolor, India Ink & Colored Pencil)

The action references several different locals through the course of the musical.   Rather than completely transform the scene to represent each location, we chose to take a theatrical approach by staging the production entirely in a gym.

We chose to eschew a “Glammed-Up”   environment as might be expected for a musical, and, instead intend to retain an “old school” charm to the setting.   20s-era architectural elements representing the gymnasium and aged and worn or “old-school” quality of the  added elements serve to establish this aesthetic.  It probably goes without saying that all of the added prop elements shift rapidly with a minimum of fuss (using actors or stagehand extras) so as to keep up the show’s pace.


Research: School Library

Several specific locations will be represented by the addition of minimal specific property elements.  For example, a pair of bookshelves and an institutional wooden table and matching chairs will represent the library.


Research: Lockers and Bench

The locker room will be represented with a pair of small sets of gym lockers and a bench or two.  Transition to the frat. house involves the addition of a sofa, while a car is established by seating the actors on the downstage steps with a simple steering wheel.

Great colorful hotel

Great colorful hotel

The transition to the Eros Motor Hotel scenes will be a little more elaborate with a large faux neon sign element and 5 doors representing the individual rooms, as well as a decorative chaise.

The final scene of the play is a Bacchanal-themed celebratory school dance. This scene will transform the gym into a school dance by introducing a large hand-made “Bacchanal” banner and crème-colored drapes flanking the balcony.

Later posts will explore the creation of the Faux-Neon Sign and some projected scoreboards and a couple of other little tricks that might amuse.

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




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