Female of the Species

The Female of the Species is a hilarious farce about feminism and the growing pains it has endured in the past two generations. The set for this play is a box set turned at a slight angle. All of the action takes place in a single room and because of this the set is a relatively simple build. There aren’t any lifts or moving set pieces to be engineered and finessed. There are a few tricks in this show but they are fairly small ones. Two things stick in my head about this set, it is very tall and it involves some rather large moulding. Otherwise it was a straightforward journey from this:

to this:

We started by building the flats that make up the back wall, these were skinned with luan, some of which had been saved from a previous show so the back of the flats have a really beautiful golden birch veneer finish.

Once the flats were skinned we assembled them in the paint shop so that the painters could plaster and paint them.  I wish I’d gotten a picture of the shop when it was entirely full, it resembled a fun house maze with walls and bookcases nested in amongst each other.

There is also a three quarter section of a sunroom as the stage left wall of the house. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out a way I can smuggle this home with me once the show comes down, but somehow I don’t think our condo association would let me install it on our third floor balcony.

There are quite a few faux finishes in this show. There are ten foot tall bookshelves painted with woodgrain, a mantle piece painted to look like white marble, and the outside of the house is brick. This brick arrived in a flat four by eight crate and had a long journey through the paint shop before it could appear on stage.

The final treatment involved aging the brick and this had to be done with the wall standing in its finished orientation. The wall is so tall we had to stand it up into one of the skylights to get it fully upright. One of the painters told me that this was the tallest thing she’d ever painted in our paint shop.

My big tasks for the build of this show involved a lot of moulding. I built the mantlepiece and most of the cornice. The mantle was actually kind of fun to build, even though the whole thing is made of MDF which in general is not my favorite material to work in because the dust it makes is so fine and full of chemicals.

Building the cornice was a challenge because it is a multilayered piece of moulding that wraps around several corners.

The ideal way to make something like this is to build it in place, cutting and placing each successive piece all along the length of the wall. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible. While I was building the cornice the walls for the set were in the paint shop getting a coat of plaster and green paint. Instead I cut the back plates for the cornice and then assembled them on a work bench to affix the rest of the layers. Then, once everything was built it was sent to paint and I crossed my fingers that all of the angles would match once we got it down on stage.

But that’s a topic for the next post…

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