Set Design: “Down Dangerous Passes Road”

Photo by Matthew Koopmans

Client: Encore Theatre Company
Production: Down Dangerous Passes Road
Venue: Ernie Checkeris Theatre at Thorneloe University
Director: Callam Rodya
Associate Director: Jenny Hazelton
Stage Manager: Shannon Hipson
Set Design: Callam Rodya and Kenneth Salah
Scenic Consultant: Robert Ivey
Lighting Designer: Kenneth Salah
Technical Support: Cambrian College Theatre Arts Technical Production Program

This is the set of the debut Encore Theatre Company mainstage “Down Dangerous Passes Road” by Michel Marc Bouchard. The set was designed by myself and Kenneth Salah.

Photo by Kenneth Salah

The centrepiece of the design is a wrecked GMC pickup truck (circa 1995 or thereabouts). The truck first had to be completely stripped of internal parts (engine, transmission, battery, even the steering column) to reduce the weight enough to get it into the theatre and on stage. Then it had to be “wrecked” by a team of theatre tech students with sledgehammers. That was a fun day.

The truck was rigged with a practical light to simulate the headlamp and a hazer was used under the hood to generate “smoke” from the wrecked engine, which ironically enough, was itself missing.

That’s also an authentic Quebec license plate hanging from the bumper. You can find anything online.

Photo by Kenneth Salah

A faux dirt road forms the playing space of the set. Robert Ivey of R+I Design was consulted on creating the forced-perspective stretch of road. It begins downstage and subtly narrows as it winds upstage to give an illusion of greater distance. Debris from the truck was salvaged and used to dress the road. The entire play takes place in the aftermath of this crash and so we decided to use the actual broken glass and shards from the truck to heighten the realism. Authentic guard rail pieces were loaned to us from the City of Greater Sudbury for the production.

Photo by Matthew Koopmans

Finally, two large wood and paper mache rocks were used to bookend the stage on either end. The original design concept called for an assortment of trees and shrubbery to augment the illusion of being on an isolated country road, but these elements were deemed unnecessary (and too costly) early in the process. Instead, Mr. Salah used a series of gobos and breakup in his lighting design to throw shapes of nature on the stage to create the illusion (to great effect).

Rocks and gravel were salvaged from the wooded areas surrounding the Ernie Checkeris Theatre and used to fill in the black of the stage around the guard rail posts and fake rocks, creating a nice outline of the road.

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