Perspective Scenery

19 Sep

        As a theatre major, I did not know there was such a thing called perspective scenery until last year. I have seen countless number of plays; but because I am visually impaired, I always thought I was just seeing things differently than the rest of the world. Based on what I have heard and experienced, it is really hard for someone who is visually impaired to watch a three-dimension movie. Perspective scenery is a three-dimensional space, with a design technique on a flat surface that creates an illusion of reality and an impression of distance.  

Thankfully I watched No Exit, which was showing on campus. I asked both my professors about perspective scenery, one who directed the show and the other one who designed the set. I liked what they told me but as a future screenwriter, I wanted to know more. The effect on perspective scenery is the further the actors are on the stage the bigger they look, it’s like seeing giants in real life.

Perspective scenery, also known as force-perspective, is easy to create as long as you know what you are doing or find someone who has more experience than you. Measurement is highly important for post-perspective; the stage has to be measured a certain way. For example, the platforms, legs and props have to be fixed a certain way to create the perspective. The main idea is to create a triangular stage.  

One of the most important pieces of a perspective scenery stage is the legs; usually referred to as 2×4. Although the front of the stage looks taller than the back, the back legs actually are longer than the front. First the legs have to be cut a certain measure, depending on how tall the director wants the set to be. Then the stage designers will have the platforms, so the legs have to be bolted onto the platforms. As the designers continue to work on the set, they will have these triangular stage platforms. The angle that the furniture rests, I would have said to be about 65 degrees against the wall so that the back of the stage can be view by the audience. When the audience is looking on stage, the further the person is, the bigger the actors will look. Barry Carvin, the theatre director on campus, commented “I used that in No Exit so I would create the idea of a world where space was confined and where there was an incredible amount of attention when the characters move upstage, away from the audience. It gave a feeling that, what was outside was something that was pressurized, something that was threatening to them”

“Force-perspective” continued Barry, “can be used for any typical play but there must be a reason.” Perspective scenery is used to confuse the audience about what they are seeing. I just think it is a unique thing to use. You can always tell whether a stage is post-perspective or not, by looking to see if the up-stage goes up, the ceiling goes down and everything else is smaller, the further it is from the door.


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