In any theatrical production the set is very important – and An Evening at Home with the Austens is no different!
There were three major challenges in creating the set for this piece – it had to look like it was from the Regency era, be easy to tour and we had a very small budget! I can’t take any credit for the set design and the sourcing of props, but Isabel (Snowden, our director) has spoken to me about it, so I hope she doesn’t mind me talking on her behalf!
Firstly, the decision was to have a fairly minimal set. As it was performed in the style of a sketch show, which often just have a few chairs and box of costume and props, it was decided that was the way to go for our production. Stools were decided upon as their design is not as specific as those of chairs, which meant modern stools could be sourced and passed off as regency. Two matching stools were bought and another one borrowed. Unfortunately on the day of the performance, one of the stools broke! Luckily the theatre we were performing in had one we could borrow, but we will need to fix it before the tour. The plan is also to buy another stool we can take on tour, and sand down the current ones as they are varnished.
The other main piece of set was the trunk which was borrowed from Isabel’s parents! It was filled with costumes to bring colour to the stage, and where appropriate, they were taken out of the box and put on on stage as in the style of a sketch show. This didn’t always work – for example when I exited and came back on as another character 4 lines later – but where it fitted in it was a nice touch. The box was also filled with History of England masks and a family tree – more on those another time!
So they were have it – how to do a Georgian set on a budget and with few enough items you can fit it in a car along with 3 actors for a long drive to Cornwall.