Building A Set

Last spring, my friend Erin approached me and said, “Build me a set worthy of the gods!”

Well, not really, as Erin is rather shy and retirning, so when I went to her and said, “I can help build you a set for The Haunting of Hill House, if you need it.” She kind of shrugged and said, “Suuuure?” From anyone else, I’d take that answer as a hint and smile and wait for them to call me. But it was Erin and that was an eager acceptance of the offer. I first met her doing Out of Order, my first show back acting in years and years, and it took until a trip to the bar after our final regular rehearsal before she actually started to talk to any of the cast, really. But we bonded during the performances and after-parties, and so when she got her first shot at directing a show of her own, I jumped up to help her.

So what I’m saying is, it’s like she came to me and said, “Build me a set worthy of the gods!”

What followed was one of the more interesting creative experiences I’ve ever had. I got some help from other theatre members, but not really enough, so for the most part it was Erin and I, laying it out, going to the hardware store, and then a lot of quiet hours on my own putting up flats and building platforms, the latter with some help from Scott, the Assistant Director. The set required a few special effects, including doors that closed themselves, a flexible wall that could stretch and make it look like the house itself was reaching for one of the actresses, and a door that could flex without looking damaged after the fact. The last effect is the only one I wasn’t entirely pleased with, but time ended up being scarce, not to mention most other resources. In the end, though, I’m pretty proud of what we accomplished with it.

I ended up also being cast in the show, which was also a good experience as it helped me understand more intimately what was required of the set as I was building. Not something I generally want to repeat, since it ate most of my evenings for all of October, but interesting just the same. And now I’m about to embark on building my next set for my friend Chris, who was in The Haunting of Hill House and let me know right then and there that he’d be asking me to build the set for the next show he directed, whatever it was.

For funsies, here’s an animated gif of the set coming together.

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