Pirates of Penzance

Pirates full set

Moorpark College 2014
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When approaching the concept for this set, I came upon two primary options: one would be to do it very traditionally, which called for two very specific, yet somewhat simplistic sets, one for each act, changing at intermission; the other option was to go very untraditional, and make a very intense unit set, that served as the playing space for the whole show.  We chose to go with the second option – and even create a story around it.  In our version of the show, the famous Pirates of Penzance… who are not the greatest at being pirates… have crashed their ship into the dock of a port town; now to pay off the damages, the are performing one of the tales of their exploits for the local community.  The set was created to be a very immersive location.  A fully realized ship, the edges of a town coming in from offstage, hills fading off into the distance, and docking of various levels everywhere –including spanning the opening of the orchestra pit and going out into the audience, allowing the performers move into and out of the house, and increase that feeling that the audience was in the show, and not sitting outside of it.  The stage was littered with all sorts of little bits of set dressing, really adding life to the character of the scenery, and making the location that much more alive for the performers.  Overall, I wanted a particular stylized look – not going completely realistic, but also not too cartoony – taking elements that could be stuck as too straightforward, and just nudging them askew slightly, such a pudgy little ship (but a ship nonetheless) and docking which should be more uniform, jutting off in all different directions.  It was a very immersive and amusing show, that had a real personality of its own.