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Marble Surface

Bring It On Set Design

When I decided to take a year abroad in the UK, I knew that I wanted to find a way to continue growing my themed entertainment skillset. One way I did that was by joining the nextgen showcase 10 month project. The other way I decided to do that was to apply to be on the set team for the University of Edinburgh's musical theatre student society. I got chosen to be the set designer and lead fabricator and so spent several months bringing my vision to life on a tight budget.

I was not fully satisfied with the final product to be completely honest. First, the venue did not have fly capabilities and so all set had to be stored backstage. Due to space limitations backstage sets that I had made, like the diner set, were cut. With advance knowledge of the space limitations backstage, I feel I could have better allotted my time, devoting more energy to sets that were not cut. Second, I did not coordinate well with the lighting team. This was their first time lighting flats and large set pieces (sets for this group had been essentially non-existent in the past) and I didn't know that, leading to poor calibration between the lights and set pieces. There was also miscommunication regarding a large back wall lighting structure that with better communication could have been integrated in a better way with the set. Lastly, between travel and adjusting to life and school overseas, I did not devote as much time and energy to making the set as I had with previous projects. 

All that being said, I'm still proud of the final product. I learned a lot from what I didn't like about my set and was still able to pull some good reviews:

"Abi Ehrlich has got the sound design spot on as have Ellie Anderson on costumes and Olivia Pierce on set design" --- All Edinburgh Theatre

"Staging for the show works exceptionally well with Olivia Pierce’s set design, which is simple, but always maintains that gym-hall aesthetic of the American bleachers and soft-wood floors." -- Corr Blimey


When I began the project, the production team did not have a vision for what aesthetic they wanted the set to have. I took the lead on developing the show's aesthetic, which I've been calling "2000s Disney Channel". With this idea and stipulations from the director in terms of when set would be on the stage and when she wanted room for dancing, I created a mood board, a procurement list, some set drawings, and a budget. From these planning documents, I was able to keep the building process organized. Below is a snippet from the later phases of the mood board, which was pretty informal as our set team was just 2 people.


All of the flat painting, set dressing, and the fabrication of a countertop that turns into a dancing platform, was done by me and my set assistant, with some painting help from the cast. Through this fabrication process I was able to grow my woodworking and scenic painting skills.  I take particular pride in all the details the set holds: the posters on the bedroom wall reference the last show the society did (legally blonde), the posters on the school wall are American Government posters (since the show is set in the US), and the chalkboard painted on the school wall can actually be written on with chalk, just to name a few of my favorite details.

Final Product

Below are some photos of the final set. There were 3 main "scenes" used throughout the show: the bedroom, the school, and the diner. Unfortunately the two diner flats were cut to save space backstage so only the counter was used. Additionally, the theatre was decorated with banners I made that set the stage for the Truman vs Jackson rivalry.

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