Over the summer I have been working on various projects but the biggest one was making the set for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for a local welsh school’s production.
Before designing the set, I decided to re-watch the films to get some inspiration and noticed that the main aspects of the sets were the big candy trees the chocolate river and the bright colours. Due to there being only a small budget we began looking for materials at the Ely Resource centre. Here we found some large circular cardboard pieces which I thought would be perfect for making candy lolly pops. We also found lots of different materials/ fabrics and different colours of acetate. When designing the set, I decided that there should be a few big pieces and then lots of small props to decorate the stage and the school hall that the kids/ performers could also use throughout the show.
I realised that in both films there are a lot of candy cane trees which give the sense of being in a magical place due to their odd curly nature. This would be one of the big props while the candy lollypops would be the other big pieces. To make the candy cane tree we began by modelling the basic shape out of chicken wire, this hopefully give the tree a strong base. One we had the two sections (trunk and branches) we began to add layers of mod rock to the chicken wire. This took longer than anticipated as we often had to stay behind for hours after school. Once the tree was fully covered, we had to transport the two sections to the performance venue and continue to build it there. All that was needed was to wrap it in red tape as the mod rock already gave the white base.
As for the other props we began by designing the large sweets, there were ten in total which allowed some of them to be used to present each classes work leading up to the show. We also had some left to decorate areas around the audience as only three were used on stage which gave the impression of the audience being in the chocolate factory. As this was a school production, I wanted to get some of the students involved with making the set therefore some of the classes in key stage 2 helped make smaller lollypops on the backs of paper plates. All of these were then stapled to polls that went around the hall masking some of the light stands. The kids really enjoyed working on the larger lollypops and one child had the idea to add glitter to the lollypops which meant that the lights bounced off of them well.
For other props as we hadn’t used the different coloured acetate, yet we decided to make some basic sweets that resembled quality streets. We did this by building up layers of newspaper and wrapping it with the acetate and coloured ribbon. We also used the fabric that we bought and made lots of large pom poms to add to a wooden frame to make a colourful tree.
As for the scene changes, we wanted simple props/ set changes as the main focus was still to be on the performers. Therefore, we created a bubble-gum machine using a painted cardboard box and balloons. Then we built various sizes of tv’s that were stacked together out of cardboard boxes to create the set for mike tv. Both of these set changes were set on castors so that they could easily be pulled on and off of stage. As we couldn’t light them with wired fairy lights (due to the fact that we couldn’t tape down the wire) we lit both of these props with long lasting glow sticks.
During the performance we only had a few scene changes as most scenes were set in the factory and just needed the addition of the bubble gum machine or mike tv set. As a result of this we only had two stagehands so for the big scene change (the buckets house to the factory) in which we only had 30 seconds to change the set we had to organise which props were to be moved. As a result of the candy cane tree and the chocolate fountain both having fairy lights on them, we couldn’t move them onto the stage without the wires becoming a trip hazard therefore they were set on stage throughout the entire performance. Therefore, only props that needed to be set during this scene were the three candy cane circles, the pom pom tree, the quality street sweets and all the fairy lights had to be switched on.