Monthly Archives: March 2012

Personal Project Brief Sheet


Design survey

To get some thoughts on what other people thought about a portable set designed for cabarets i constructed a survey and gave 8 people one to fill out on my next visit to Downfield Musical Society.

The question was;

1.Describe using 5 words what the key features for a portable cabaret set design are?

2.What is the first image that comes to mind of what this portable set would look like ?

3.Can you draw it or sketch it ?

Here are the sheets filled out ……

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From these sheets the description words were really helpful.  Some of the words were; simple, lightweight, adjustable, attractive, re-usable, durable and easily assembled. As you can see from the drawings there is a similar thought on what a portable set would look like. From this research i hope to be able to design something that doesn’t look like a typical stage but still defines the area as a performance space.



Today i spoke to Ross Leslie who is a fourth year interior design student at DJCAD. He is also producing a set design for ‘Into the Woods’ for his final year project so i thought it would be a good idea to have a chat with him to see what he thought about my ideas so far.

After explaining my idea and how i wanted to carry this theme into 4th year Ross suggested that this might be difficult and that i might get bored of doing the same show over the next year. Suggesting that i might be better to concentrate on a smaller part of the back to the 80’s show and then carry the idea of wanting to design for stage production in 4th year but choose a different show that i could design the whole set for. He also gave me a book to have a look at titled Collaborators – UK design for performance. 2003-2007.

Feeling a bit confused however gaining some inspiration from the Collaborators book. I had a chat with our year tutor Linsey and explained that after speaking to Ross i was a bit unsure of where to go next.

I decided that i was going to design a portable set for a that could be used for cabarets. This set will be mainly designed for back to the 80’s show but also easily changed for other performances.

The questions i have to ask myself when designing this are;

1. Is it a theatre with a space ?

2. how do the audience interact ?

3. how many actors can fit on ?

4. how does it change for other shows?

5. is for inside / outside use?

6. Im i going to make this full scale in 8 weeks?

7. what is achievable in 8  weeks ?

8. why is it the way it is ? ie. what research relates to it being designed the way it is.

End of week 1

My ideas so far;

Would like to design a set for the production of back to the 80’s using Downfield Musical Society as my client. Probably only looking at a small part of the show due to the time i have on this project. However i need to think about wether or not i’m going to produce this full scale or drawings and renders.

To move forward i need to ;

Speak to the director to make sure it’s suitable for me to use this show for my project, Get the script from DMS, take photos of DMS theatre space. Speak to a 4th year student dealing with the same idea and make a plan for the time i have left.

Chosen Show

Downfield’s next production for the youth of the society is Back to the 80’s. I have decided to focus on this show for my project.

Back to the 80’s tells the story of the 1989 graduating class of William Ocean high as seen through the narrator, Corey Palmer who is now living in the year 2001.

The then 17-year-old Corey is madly in love with his next-door neighbor, Tiffany Houston, one of the coolest girls in the school. However, she barely notices this, as she is too busy mooning over Michael Feldman, the hottest guy around. Michael and his friends are athletic and good-looking – the kind of guys that Corey and his two best friends dream of being. However, while they may not be the coolest guys in school, they are still one up on Feargal McFerrin III, whose best friend is his computer, and who believes the crazy notion that one day CDs will replace cassette tapes.

The school year kicks off with the election of the senior class president. Just before elections, Michael steals Corey’s election idea, which ends up in Michael winning. Later in the year, a new girl joins the school, Eileen Reagan. She becomes friends with Laura Wilde and Debbie Fox who’s boyfriends are in Miami on “business”.Math teacher Steven Cocker (Mr. Cocker), finally gets Sheena Brannigan (Ms. Brannigan) to go out on a date with him.

As the year progresses, Corey finally asks Tiffany to be his girlfriend. Unfortunately Michael also decides to ask Tiffany. Both compete for her in. In the end, Tiffany chooses Michael. As the weeks passed, Corey to bring-up his forgotten idea of a school concert that Michael stole and convinces Mr. Cocker to out it on. Shortly after, Mr. Cocker finds out the Ms. Brannigan was a centerfold for a swimsuit magazine and is upset that she “lied” to him. The act ends with both Mr. Cocker and Ms. Brannigan convincing the class to put on the concert.

Act 2 opens up with the senior class putting on their concert for their parents. Corey, looking to gain status, puts on a party at his house, the Love Shack as he calls it.  However, his parents arrive home early from their trip and Corey gets caught. Later in the year, Eileen finds who has been putting love letters in her locker, Michael. Mr. Cocker, who still thinks about the centerfold, goes completely mad.

Prom is approaching, and Billy ask Cyndi Gibson to the prom, but is turned down since she is a. As another letter from Michael and the gang goes into Eileen’s locker, they get caught by Eileen. Michael tells her that it was all a joke and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Tiffany, who watched the whole thing, decides to breakup with him. Fergal finally intervenes after Eileen runs off the stage crying and fights with Michael. Nearly beaten though, he asks Mr. Myagi for advice and beats Michael with a kick to the face. Tiffany later catches Corey cheering-up Eileen and admits she wants to go to the prom with him, but it is too bad he is taken. Corey admits that he turned down all requests only because he would only go to the prom with her.

During prom, the older Corey tells where everybody is now. (See: “Life for the characters after school”) The act concludes with the conclusion of everybody singing.


Using layers in stage Design

John Weygandt, scenic designer at Willow Creek Community Church.

He shares examples of using layers in stage design to create depth, interest, and beauty. In a series for churches on stage design with soft goods.

Downfield Musical Society History

– Society was formed in 1928

– Rehearsed and perfomed in the village hall (known now as the Scout hall) untill the early 30’s

– Then settle in performing in the Whitehall Theatre Dundee in 1970

– DMS purchased new premises in Guthrie Street (1980’s)

– No storage for scenery in Guthrie Street so it was stored at Brown street then later a barn at a farm in       Whitfield.

– 1990’s – performed at the Royal Albert Hall and also in Waterford International Festival of Light Opera.

– DMS 80th birthday in 2008

– Starlight showroom was opened in side the clubrooms of DMS.


I have been encouraged to make a connection for my personal project, so i have chosen Downfield Musical Society. Based in Dundee, Downfield Musical Society put on amateur productions throughout each year in their own premises ‘The Starlight Showroom’ for smaller productions and the Whitehall Theatre Dundee for larger productions and audiences. DMS have been performing for over 80 years now and I am also a current member to date. I have been involved in the ‘dance team’ of musicals and pantomimes which has played a big part in me now being involved in producing some of the choreography in major shows and our smaller shows for the youth of the company. To view DMS website –