Art Classes Provide Set Design


Nikki Honda, Sports Editor

The Advanced Art class teamed up with the drama department for the set design of the school play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was performed outside in front of the library. The play was held from April 16-19.

Drama teacher Jamie Donohoe said that due to construction near the multipurpose room, the drama department needed to figure out a new location for the spring play. The solution was the stage-shaped area outside the library.

“The CPAC stage is full of a bunch of stuff so we decided we will give this a shot,” Donohoe said. He said the outdoor experience was  similar to the local Cal Shakes plays. “I think it’s going to be a completely different experience than just being indoors in that just being outdoors, under the stars, it’ll be chilly, and who knows what’s going to happen,” he said.

According to junior Aimee Weinstein, who performed the role of Hermia, the performance had a “way different feel from being locked up in a theater.”

Art teacher Jill Langston said the idea started as a collaborative project. “Mr. Donohoe suggested that we do set designs and it sounded really fun. He picked the play and the theme of steam punk and then we brought it to my advanced art class,” she said.

According to Langston, the art classes were shown a powerpoint of images that were considered to be steam punk. “I gave them a few parameters of what I wanted, a couple trees and some platforms, and they just took it completely over,” Donohoe said. He said the color schematics and the gears on the trees were ideas introduced by the art class.

Langston said the students made their own designs and presented their concepts to Donohoe.  “We kind of pieced them all together, selected the ones we liked best, adapted them, redesigned things, and then started to build them,” she said. Junior art student Rachel Sniderman said the class incorporated concepts from several different presentations to come up with the final design.

Sniderman helped paint the back drop and enjoyed the unique experience. She liked that the class got to use a lot of paint, cover a lot more space than usual, and “just kind of go crazy.” “It didn’t really matter if you made mistakes since it was such a broad canvas. Mrs. Langston said ‘the mistakes are the best part,'” Sniderman said.

The art class painted directly onto the windows of the library for the back drop and other props they created such as large trees were constructed of cardboard and house paint. The back drop was done in temperate paint which, according to Langston is “like elementary school paint.” The paint was rolled on to the windows layer by layer to improve the quality.

Sniderman said they started by painting the entire back drop white, and then added black around the border. Then, the class used a darker green paint on the outside and painted lighter in the middle of the back drop. The ending result was ” a marbled back ground with tree branches in it.” Sniderman added that they had to keep it looking neutral because it had to work for both a forest setting and a city setting. The students painted the week before the performances. “It was stressful, but I think it went a lot quicker then we anticipated,” she said.

According to Langston, the project initially was for just the Advanced Art class but it ended up being so much work that the Art 1 and Art 2 classes pitched in. Langston said the painting took “hundreds of hours.”

Langston says she likes the way the painting turned out. “I really love it and it so I’m looking forward to seeing it with the lights on it. During the day I think it looks great and I think we did a great job,” she said.

However, having the play outdoors was not without conflicts. Weinstein said the outdoor stage forced her to project her voice. Also, the weather posed a threat to the performance. “It probably won’t rain but if so the whole thing gets cancelled, and if it’s cold then everybody just suffers,”  Weinstein said.

Senior Kion Karimi, who plays the role of Demetrius, agrees with Weinstein’s concerns. He said the biggest difficulty was staying in character while being freezing cold at the same time. However, he maintained a positive attitude. “It’s not a stage so it’s a different feeling then actually being on one but we make it a stage in the end,” he said.

Donohoe said he thinks it turned out “fantastic” and he “couldn’t be happier.” Karimi said, “The art class did an awesome job, I think it looks really cool.”

Sniderman enjoyed experimenting with a new concept of using ladders and really tall brushes. “It was really cool to do something for the drama department like work together with another group to create something,” she said.

Weinstein was impressed by the final design the art classes came up with. “It’s going to be a really special play, we’ve never really done this kind of thing so it’s unique.” She believes there are both pros and cons to having the play outside this year. “It could go terribly wrong but it most likely will be really awesome. I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.