Amateur Theatricals

From Amateur Theatricals, by C. Lang Neil, 1904 (pp 140-141)

Arrangement of Scenery

The two things to be aimed at are to have what is actually wanted, and to make the scene look natural and effective, always remembering that a very great point is gained if your stage looks attractive. To this end bring everything to bear upon the stage setting that will please the eye, and make a good picture. The aid of the ladies may often be relied upon to arrange such a scene as this with the best results.

Everything used in the scene should be set at rehearsal, and the actual furniture and properties wanted at night should be used, not substitutes. Thus the actors will be able to regulate their movements on the stage; the table will be of the proper shape, the chairs will be well placed, not too high nor too low, nor too heavy to move easily. If the couch is used it must be placed in the exact spot, and not in the way, and a few books, writing materials, a lamp, handbell, etc., can be distributed in any way that seems desirable either for use or ornament.

For a drawing-room the draperies should be of a lighter shade than for a dining or other room, in fact, everything should be appropriate to the place and occasion.

For a cottage scene there should be plainer draperies, the floor covered with a drugget or plain carpet, a plain wooden table, two or three windsor chairs, and, where possible, a few kitchen utensils displayed to give the scene an air of reality.

Much taste and ingenuity may be exercised in the arrangement of the stage should a garden scene be required.

The screens should be covered with a trellis work, with branches of evergreen arranged upon it, or a piece of green baize may be hung over them, with a quantity of ivy fastened on it, and perhaps a few artificial flowers fixed here and there. Pots of shrubs and flowers may be placed at the back and sides of the scene, and green baize should be used in place of a carpet.

In short, whether the scene represents an interior or exterior, amateurs will do well to utilise anything and everything that will not only be suggestive of the real thing, but that will approach reality as nearly as possible.

From Amateur Theatricals, by C. Lang Neil, 1904 (pp 140-141)