Scenery: Door and Window Units


J. Michael Gillette. Theatrical Design and Production, 4th edition. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company. 1999. Chapter 9: Scenic Production Techniques

1. In a door unit, what is the shutter,

The door. Although the shutter can be built in the shop I recommend the use of a "standard" 2'6" x 6'8" hollow-core door.

    The facing, and

The wood frame (often a 1x4 or 1x6) which surrounds the door.

    The thickness?

The thickness or door jamb (often a 1x6) represents the thickness of the wall. The shutter is hinged to the thickness.

2. What is the difference between an independent door unit and

In an independent door unit, the shutter, facing and thickness are assembled into a single, independent door unit which is then slipped (and bolted) into the "hole" of a door flat. During strike the door unit is pulled out of the flat and stored in the shop for reuse. Independent door units are standard in stock companies presenting realistic drama set in a typical box set. The company may have 10 or 12 door flats but only 3 or 4 door units.

    A dependent door unit?

In a dependent unit the facing is attached to the front of the flat and the thickness and shutter are attached to the rear of the flat creating a single unit. During strike the entire unit is disassembled into a door flat, a shutter (or door) and a pile of lumber.

3. Why do doors, on a conventional box set, open off stage?

Because stage doors are traditionally hinged on the upstage side and open off stage, they become self masking-- blocking the audience's view of back stage. Also, only one side of the door is seen by the audience.

4. Describe a way of assembling a double door flat.

The simplest way to assemble a double door flat is to sandwich a header (or plug) between two flats. The flats would be part of the wall, and the header is placed above the double door unit. If the double door unit is 6'x7' and the wall is 12' tall, the plug would need to be 6' wide by 5' high. If the two flats are 2' wide, the entire structure would be 10' x 12'.

5. What is the difference between a double hung sash window,

These three windows types refer to an architectual style. A double-hung sash window is found is many homes built during the 19th and early 20th century. This style has two almost square sashs (top and bottom) which slide vertically in tracks attached to the sides of the window.

    Casement window,

A casement window has two long narrow rectangular sashes (left and right) which are hinged to the sides of the window and generally open out.

    French window?

French windows are floor length casement windows which usually open onto a balcony or garden.

6. What can be used to create the effect of glass in a window?

Traditionally the window sash is left open. If necessary, a glass effect can be created using plexiglass, acetate sheeting, or nylon netting. Because of safety issues, real glass should not be used on stage.

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