Technical Theatre

ASK A TECHIE - "What were the set pieces in the Penelopiad made of?"

Ask a Techie is a new feature on the blog.  Through this blog, CODE's resident techie will answer questions pertaining to technical theatre.  Today's question comes from Wendie, who asked:"I just saw the Penelopiad performed by Nightwood Theatre at Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto.  In the play, they used a variety of stairs and boxes that the actresses moved easily and looked incredibly light, and yet they were sturdy enough for them to stand on and walk across.  What were they made of?"I was wondering myself, so I went to see the performance (which closed today).  In the play, large blocks and four sets of stairs are used to transform the architecture of the stage.  As I watched, the performers easily lifted, slid and pivoted the set pieces to change the architecture of the stage and to build various set properties from beds, to tables, to ships, to palaces.  In the side of each set piece were oval holes used as handholds.  The pieces seemed so sturdy and so solid that it was curious how they could be so light.I talked with the designer Denys Karn about what kind of material she used for building it and she told me that they used a material called "Plycorr."  They started with a standard wooden frame and then instead of using 3/4" plywood (which one normally would use), they used 1" thick Plycorr on the tops where actors stood and 1/2" Plycorr for the sides.  They taped the edges and then glued fabric to it.  She did warn that the material is about $75/sheet, when plywood is usually only $50/sheet, and that it does not last as long.  She also warned that if the area is large enough, cross-braces might be needed to add support.  If using for your school play, careful planning and use of the material only on certain set pieces could make still be a worthwhile expense.As a thank you for her answer, I promised to post a link to Nightwood Theatre's current fundraising campaign, 10,000 Women.  Click the link to find out more about how Nightwood Theatre supports women artists in a male-dominated industry. If you have a tech question, send it to

A Special Offer for CODE Members - Free Stagecraft Posters!Members only

STAGECRAFT posters instruct-at-a-glance, presenting basic theatre principles and ideas to help the student learn and the professional teach. These posters are ideal for classroom, green room and backstage; they can help the new student or volunteer to understand basic concepts and help the old hand to better explain them.  The four stagecraft posters are: Back stage, Stage lighting, Stage Set Design and Construction, and Stage Management.  Each poster measures approx. 18” x 24” (46cm x 61cm).

Technical Resources for Teachers: Ontario Staging Ltd.

 Looking for technical theatre support? ONTARIO STAGING sells, rents, & installs blacks, backdrops, banners, & specialty drops, all sewn in-house.  Fabrics, pipe, track, clamps, & cable is always stocked; Rosco distributor. 

TheatreFace: Putting a Face on Theatre - an interesting social web site for all things Technical

This is a very interesting social web site for all those involved in theatre.  They host chats, have a central location for questions and answers to technical problems and have photo contests of set and lighting designs.

Hamlet Educator's Night at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts

711 Bloor St. EastToronto, ON (Bloor and the DVP across from Castle Frank subway)Thursday, February 24th, 2011Tickets $10 available at the doorPre-show talk with staff and students: 5:45pm in the Staff RoomEvening Performance of Hamlet: 7:00pm in the AuditoriumThe staff and students of the Drama Production courses at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts invite you to a pre-show talk and evening performance of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Learn about the model of our ADD 3M/4M focus course, and hear from student designers, dramaturges and actors who worked on this unique Japanese-inspired take on the classic play.Questions? E-mail

Lighting Design Workshop Notes

The lighting design workshop offered at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts was a huge success.  For those of you who attended, the workshop notes and a few handouts are available in the resource section of our website.  The link is below: