The making of America

When my now 13 year old son was in the 2nd grade, I was asked to help design the set for the class musical, “Bugz”. It was my first introduction to set design on a large scale. Who knew you could do so much with giant rolls of paper? The set turned out well. So did the costumes. I decided two things after the experience. First, I decided that I would volunteer to make the sets for each of musicals my 2 kids were involved in, secondly I decided that I would never again volunteer to be in charge of the set AND the costumes. You would think figuring out how to make 300 pairs of bug wings out of panty hose and coat hangers (in 6 different colors, no less) would be a blast, but really not so much…

But the set design part? Love that. Mostly because the great music teachers have pretty much given me free reign to create whatever I think will best represent the overall theme of the show. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve helped design a set for bugs:

For boys and girls venturing west:

And for students ready for summer:

This year, I was asked to design the set for Lewis and Clark, and while there are plenty of willing volunteers whom I could have called upon to help me out, I choose to go it alone this time. My original plan was to make an elaborate mountain scene with the Pacific Ocean in the background. But after reading the script, I decided that this time, a simple map of the USA circa 1803 would suffice and lend better to the story. As a bonus, this also saved me about 2 weeks worth of work — win/win.

I’m a people person, but there are times when I truly enjoy being alone. Creating this set was one of those times.

It was one of those rare times in a creative endeavor of mine when I knew exactly what I wanted to do and the steps involved to get there.

The rolling out of the background paper,

the stapling and straightening and smoothing,

and re-stapling and re-straightening and re-smoothing,

the background for the map

until it was reasonably smooth and straight.

(This process is much easier said than done.)

I don’t know who invented the overhead projector, 

but God bless them! It makes things so much easier.

No peeking: Can you name the yellow, green and red areas?

How did you do?

The set is mostly done. Someone needs to staple the blue paper to the top of the wall. But after sliding off an extension ladder from the height of where the top of that paper is 2 years ago, that someone is not going to be me.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately.

I bet you thought this post was going to be about the election, huh?

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