Magazine article Stage Directions

Walk the Plank

Magazine article Stage Directions

Walk the Plank

Article excerpt

How Shakespeare Dallas rectified its "bridge" problems.

When Shakespeare Dallas expanded their season into the fall, they expanded territory, too. Their 2005 production of Twelfth Night started at their home amphitheatre in Samuel Grand Park, Dallas, then transferred to a fountain-filled park in Addison, Texas.

Twelfth Night's set needed to be easy to transport and erect. It had to fit two stages: one wide and shallow, the other narrow and deep. But the toughest design problem was that - at mid stage - Addison had a 4-foot drop and an 11-foot-wide moat.

Bridges were required. For the main span between downstage and backstage, technical director Dave Tenney and I (as the set designer) decided to dress scaffolding with pipes and conduits like an industrial bridge. We counted on scaffolding really standing on the moat bottom. This faux bridge had an upper deck for dramatic entrances and a hidden lower one for surprise entrances. secondary bridges were of steel grating with airline cable and 2-by-4 mid-span spacers that created light, elegant cable trusses. Heavy-duty brick flats from the summer productions became fall's graffiti-tagged warehouse.

On the day before the show opened, the bottom of the moat was declared fragile. The mock bridge had to become a clear-span, double-decker bridge. Because curbs on each side of the moat were also delicate, the span grew to 16 feet. And the change in ground level on each side of the moat meant that both levels of the bridge had to be supported at the high end upstage and the low end downstage. …

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