Into the Woods: Set Building


Reem Nasrallah

The set of the Into the Woods musical.

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Set design is a critical component that can make or break a production. Not only can stage design help an audience stay engaged and move the plot along, but it can also bring the vision and theme of the play to life. The Classic spoke with Senior Mary Kirk, one of the leading people behind set design for this spring’s musical Into the Woods

Senior Mary Kirk describes how she researched and prepared for the set design. She said, “Something that can be really helpful is watching what other people have done in other productions. When coming up with ways to create trees, we watched YouTube videos of how other people made trees for the stage. We drew inspiration from multiple videos for our trees.” 

Mary also shared how the furniture and props for the designs were chosen, “We choose the set pieces based on brainstorming as a group, and what the directors and stage managers need for the show. My favorite thing that we’ve made is probably the three houses that you can see at the beginning of the show,” she said.

In establishing the floor plan or blueprint for the set, Mary said, “To start off, we got together as a group and brainstormed different ideas. After we had settled on a general concept, we made a to-scale model of the stage and a drawing of our design to show to the directors.”

Mary describes some obstacles she faced in this process by stating, “One of the most challenging things for me was all the math we had to do. To create some set pieces, we had to measure and cut wood, which sounds simple enough until you realize that all the 2x4s aren’t actually 2×4. It can get confusing when you need to cut so many pieces. However, it got easier with practice and guidance from my peers and Mr. Remy. I even got to use some trigonometry.”

Mary indicates how the sets help enhance storytelling of the production by adding, “Sets are a huge part of bringing the audience into the world of the show along with the characters. Everything about a show can be enhanced for the audience when they are able to suspend their belief in reality and enter the fictional world on stage. I feel like it’s easy to do that with an immersive set.”

Some advice that Mary would give to future prospective set designers is to “Be prepared to get your hands dirty, and also your clothes. You will get paint on your clothes, so I’d suggest having a designated pair of paint pants. Besides that, I’d say that set design can be a little tiring, but it’s so fun. Once you see your work on stage, it makes the ruined pair of pants worth it.”