Scene Design: Project 1
Design a Set for
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap

Suggestions | Check List

The Play: The Mousetrap

You are the designer of a production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap (1952) which is to be presented on the stage of the Northern Fort Playhouse at Fort Sisseton State Park.

The Mousetrap

As presented at the Forestburgh Playhouse (Forestburgh New York),
Summer 2003

The scene, as described by Agatha Christie

The Great Hall of Monkswell Manor. Late afternoon
      The house looks not so much a period piece but a house which has been lived in by generations of the same family with dwindling resources. There are tall windows up C a big arched opening up R leading to the entrance hall, the front door and the kitchen; and an arched opening L leading upstairs to the bedrooms. Up L leading off the stars, is the door to the library; down L is the door to the drawing-room, R is an open fireplace and beneath the window up C a window seat and a radiator.
      The hall is furnished as a lounge. There is some good old oak, including a large refectory table by the window up C, an oak chest in the entrance hall up R, and a stool on the stairs L. The curtains and the upholstered furniture -- a sofa LC, an armchair C, a large leather armchair R, and a small Victorian armchair down R -- are shabby and old fashioned. There is a combined desk and bookcase L, with a radio and telephone on it and a chair beside it. There is another chair up RC by the window, a Canterbury containing newspapers and magazines above the fireplace and a small half circular card table behind the sofa. There are two wall brackets over the fireplace which work together; and a wall bracket on the L wall, one L of the library door and one in the entrance hall, which are also worked together. There are double switches L of the arch up R and on the downstage side of the door down L, and a single switch on the upstage side of the door down R. A table lamp stands on the sofa table.

Copyright © 1952 by Agatha Christie

The Theatre: Northern Fort Playhouse

The Design:

The majority of your set should be designed using standard stock flats.

Document your design on graph paper using a pencil and straight edge. Include...

  1. A Floor Plan. Scale: 1 square = 1'0" (You should only need one sheet of graph paper for the floor plan)
  2. A Flat Schedule of the entire show including the backing flats. Scale: 1 square = 1'0" (You will need at.least two sheets of graph paper)
  3. A colored Designer's Elevation of one wall of your set. You may use any color media you wish. Select a wall which contains either a door or window. Scale: 1 square = 1'0"

A few suggestions...

Link to Introduction to Theatrical Drawing and Drafting Techniques for more detailed information on theatrical drafting.

  1. Step #1: Develop a Floor Plan.
    1. On a sheet of graph paper, draw the floor plan of the stage.
    2. Use the playwright's description of the scene to establish the location of doors, windows, step units and furniture. Start by
      1. Layinig in the walls of your set.
      2. Cut the openings for the doors, windows and arch ways.
      3. Add the furniture. Remember, draw everything to scale.
      4. Re-draw if necessary.
    3. Draft your drawings in pencil.
    4. Use a straight edge -- a ruler, triangle, even an envelope. No wiggly lines. please.
    5. Make a "measuring stick" (or scale) from a narrow strip of graph paper. You will use this scale to measure the length of diagonal lines.

  2. Step #2: Layout the Flat Schedule using the flat widths established on the Floor Plan.

  3. Step #3: Develop and render your Designer's Elevation. You may use any media with which you are comfortable. If you are not an art major, may I suggest magic marker, colored pencils are even crayons instead of the more traditional water color paints.

Checklist for the Scene Design Problem

On the Floor Plan did you...

  1. Show the proscenium arch, the front edge of the stage, the back wall, the side walls and the act curtain?
  2. Include the center line and the plaster line?
  3. Use conventional symbols to represent flats, curtains, doors, windows
  4. Locate backings behind each door and window unit?
  5. Include the furniture?
  6. Label all major scenic areas (Hall, Bath) and set props (Couch, Table, Bed)?
  7. Number each flat starting with the DS left tormentor (or return) ?
  8. Include a title block which includes...
    1. The name of the play,
    2. The title of the drawing,
    3. The scale,
    4. The date, and
    5. Your signature?

On the Flat Schedule did you...

  1. Draft all of the flats including the backings?
  2. Use standard door and window flats?
  3. Layout the flats in the same order as they appear on the floor plan?
  4. Draft them to scale?
  5. Include sufficient dimensions to make it possible to build the units from the drawings?
  6. Label each unit -- SL Wall, Hall Backing...?
  7. Number all of the flats as indicated on the floor plan?
  8. Include a 6' figure in scale?
  9. Include a title block?

On the Rendered Designer's Elevation did you...

  1. Draw the unit to scale?
  2. Include set dressing. Does your elevation look complete?
  3. Include a 6' figure in scale?
  4. Render (color) your elevation?
  5. Label which unit you have drawn (Rear Wall)?
  6. Include a title block?

E-mail questions and comments to Larry Wild at
Last updated: March 6, 2008
Copyright © 1998 - 2008 by Larry Wild, Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD