In my brief time as a production member of the theatre society of my college, I realised that the final product that we see on a stage is the result of a large team of people working tirelessly to bring a script to life. The production unit, dressed in black on the performance day, takes note of every detail that the audience sees.
To transport the audience to a time and era, and for the story to feel authentic, we need a good production design. Production design includes the overall visual representation of the script. In theatre parlance, a play can be production-heavy or basic. A heavy production design includes heavy props and requires a coordinated effort on part of the team. Innovative sets using limited space and resources go a long way. A creative production design team can convert the stage into anything possible, such as a public office, a forest, a mansion, and whatnot.
Sound plays an important role in establishing time and place. If we look at life around us, we are surrounded by commonplace noise at all times, and there is barely any silence. This is achieved by foley sounds or custom sounds that imitate particular sounds of everyday sounds such as the squeaking of doors, setting a coffee mug, or the sound of footsteps. Creative use of sound can help create the required mood. Somber background intensifies the tension whereas a cheerful tune can help lighten it. Moreover, sound serves as an exposition for the audience. Not everything can be shown on stage and thus sound effects are crucial. They can imply the situation more clearly like a distant sound of a gunshot establishes the possibility of murder.
Besides illuminating the artists through a 3 point lighting setup using a key, back, and fill lights, their interplay can create magic in that performance. Think of Lady Macbeth's, “All the perfumes of Arabia cannot sweeten this hand,” or Hamlet's, “To be or not to be,” in high key even lighting. The idea does not invite drama, and therefore lights become crucial. The final lights off at the point of high tension or at the end leave the audience under a lasting spell. Moreover, lights can be used to create shadows, and silhouettes adding to the theatre experience.
Costumes help create a character: appearance influences the audience's perception, sets a character's age, and establishes social conditions. Moreover, costumes put the script in context and set the tone of the play. The costume design team creates these costumes according to the budget. Accurate costumes are a result of long hours of research, and imagination.
Hair and Make-up Department
Make-up is again an important step to ensure that the actors get into the shoes of the characters as they perform. Period and historical dramas involve elaborate hair and makeup as we need to match the style of an era or person. Stage makeup is usually more colourful and graphic than ordinary cosmetic makeup. It involves creating appearances that would allow the audience to accept the character.
As we evolve into the future, there is a conscious effort to understand the technical roles and efforts that go behind the stage. The final product includes the hard work of hundreds of unsung artists whose contributions must be recognised.