The Maltese Falcon

full set

The Long Beach Shakespeare Company 2007
click on a thumbnail to see a full production photo

full set Spade's Office scene Spade's Office scene Spade's Office scene Gutman's Hotel scene under the street lamp at the phone booth
on the street on the street          

The novel of The Maltese Falcon traverses through many different locations, for the staged version, however, it has been cut down to a few essentials. To accomplish this I sectioned off the stage into three distinct levels, each representing a different location. The first, and upper, level is Samuel Spade’s office (which also serves as his apartment); which is where the majority of the action takes place. The second, and center, level doubles as Brigid’s and Gutman’s Hotel rooms - with a movement of furniture. And the final, and lowest, level is the street (of varying locations), complete with two period phone booths and street lamp. Being a very specific period piece, there were many challenges in dressing the set - period phones, furniture, and decor. Spade’s office was not only supposed to be period but also Art Deco, which is shown by the window and door design, the doorknob and plates, and by the simple and uniform paint job. The Hotel room had to show upper class (complete with period wallpaper) and not block anything upstage with the furniture. So, working on a budget this show had me hunting down period items, manufacturing period items out of acquired pieces, building and upholstering furniture, and cutting down and reassembling other furniture. It was quite the task, but in the end really came together. In addition to all this, The Maltese Falcon is one of the greats of the Film Noir genre, and while not being able to replicate a black and white effect, I attempted to give the scenic element the mood of the Noir and black & white by keeping my colors somewhat grayed out. I also strove to accomplish the Noir with several of my lighting choices. Instead of doing a warm and cool light wash, I chose to do a wash of plain white light and cool light, which created more of a stark feeling than the warms would have. I also did a lot with dim lighting, lighting through the window blinds (very Noir), and the light from the street lamp. The over all effect was a scenic and lighting element that really worked, and definitely created the effect the production was going for.