Various members of the group have become specialists at set building, painting and decorating, sourcing costumes, props and furniture and setting up light, sound and effects equipment. Of course there is also the huge task that goes with each production of running the stage 'on the night', ensuring that actors and props are in the right place at the right time.
Although we say it ourselves, the quality of our sets and effects have improved considerably over the past ten years. Some of the greatest challenges over this time have been:
Up to 60 lights can be used in each production. These are required to light the stage and any other areas where action may take place. Special effects can be produced with dedicated lighting, such as ultra-violet which makes particular colours of material or paint glow. In a typical pantomime 12,000 - 15,000 Watts are produced at any one time, from a mixture of owned and hired lights and about half a mile of power cable is used.
Backstage the cable from the lights is 'patched' in to the dimmer racks.
Almost all of the stage lighting can be controlled from one desk. Traditionally this would be a manual operation, with one 'fader' controlling one or two lights. More advanced lighting desks can be programmed so that a fader controls any number of lights and special effects can be set up to start at the touch of a button.
In 2003 we took the opportunity to replace our hired lighting desk (left) with a brand new desk of our own (right).
Set design and construction usually starts soon after the previous production has finished. Pantomimes usually require several backdrops involving a lot of painting, whilst plays may take place in one room. Doors, stairs and windows are often required in the latter.
A set takes shape below.
Often a 'rat-run' is left behind the set as seen here. This allows access from either side of the stage and also allows windows, doorways and backdrops to be lit from behind.
Costumes and Props
We have built up a huge collection of costumes, props and even items of furniture. Visit the Archive of past productions to see the variety of costumes and props - from a spinning wheel in Cinderella to the hat stand in Murder Room.