Any study of the graphic techniques that are practiced in the theatre embraces all phases of technical production, from the designer's vision to the finished set on the stage. A graphic solution, however, is only as accurate as the drafting. It is obvious that a knowledge of drafting techniques is not only the beginning but also the dominating factor in acquiring skill and accuracy at the drawing board.
The most basic use of graphic techniques, in the theatre, is one of communication. Whether it be mounting a production of Aïda for the Met, squeezing a set for Candida into the Provincetown Playhouse, or designing a twofold for television, the initial problems are the same. Before any scenery gets on the boards, design ideas have to be transcribed into a form that can be easily communicated and understood by others concerned with the production.
There comes a time in the development of any set, simple or complicated, when the designer has to leave the realm of "singing spaces" to come down to earth and deal in feet and inches. As designers they want their ideas carried out efficiently and accurately. To do so, they must give simple, clear and accurate information, the practical information, that is needed to get the set on the stage. Laying aside sketches for the moment, they begin talking in another language, the language of drafting techniques and engineering drawing principles, the language of lines. It is not a language without imagination, however, for it takes considerable visual perception to draw and to read a blueprint.
In the theatre, as in related crafts, the blueprint bridges the gap between the sketch and the completed set on the stage. This period of relative calm may be the calm before the storm when, like a giant jigsaw puzzle, the show is put together. The resulting chaos is not always caused by misinformation but many times by misunderstanding and misinterpretation. At the formative stage of every production it is imperative that everybody concerned understand each other. It is important that everybody speak the same language, a language without visual support of perspective and shading, dependent entirely on lines as its means of communication.
Undoubtedly most designers are familiar with drafting techniques and the principles of engineering drawing. Have patience, the beginning is the same but the application is different! The theatre has its own dubious set of drafting conven-