Concordia University of Wisconsin’s theatre department transformed the stage for winter productions of 12 Angry Jurors and Always a Bridesmaid in February.
The audience was located on stage for both productions, but each one had a specific set up.
Directors Lori Woodall-Schaufler and Ryan Schaufler decided on the idea during the process of selecting the shows for the year.
“We discovered that they both took place in one room only, and required a certain amount of intimacy. Though drastically different plays, they shared those characteristics, and we figured, “Why not have the plays have the same seating, just different furniture/set pieces?” Woodall-Schaufler said.
Both plays enhance its emotional effect by having the audience on stage.
“We both wanted our audiences up close to experience the emotional journeys of each play. Ryan wanted 12 Angry to be arena style to give the feeling of suffocation/claustrophobia, as the characters feel this way stuck in the jury room with such an intense deliberation. For Bridesmaid, the women have such a close friendship, I wanted the audience to experience their closeness up close and personal, but I chose thrust instead of arena, as it felt more appropriate,” Woodall-Schaufler said.
Once the idea was finalized by Woodall-Schaufler and Schaufler, they passed the idea on to the design and construction team. The design team draws out a map and figures out measurements before they can begin the construction.
Alan Atwood, Mike Landers, and a few others did construction and set building for the winter productions. Landers said that each of them put in a different amount of time to build the set.
“I am the assistant set construction person and worked on construction part time, usually when Alan was there or Late at night painting, when no one would be on set for at least a few hours so paint could dry,” Landers said.
With many hours on the set, Landers said that although the set looks simple, the risers that hold the audience seating arrangements took a considerable amount of effort and time.
Landers’ favorite part of set building is creating a façade that seems real and accurate to the time. Audiences of both shows will see the effect of how transforming the stage takes effort and creates an emotional effect on the productions.