I donated my time to the XXX Theatre Company, which doesn’t don’t have an extensive budget. For this set, I needed to be able to seat eight actors at one time.
I used up old paints because the waste I found when I was picking around was appalling and I hand mixed each colour. I made or supplied everything on the set. Most of the furniture was mine, but I drew a design for the fainting couch, which my hero built for me. He also made the fender for the fireplace. I painted every picture hanging on the walls, some on disposable plastic plates, some on old cardboard, mostly copies of paintings I had also found in books, except the big one in the background. (Shown above with an inset of a portrait of the heroine's mother that sat in a silver frame on the mantle above the fire). I sewed the curtains and upholstered the sofa.
Because the director, whom I very much respect, was known for the fabulous costumes she designed, I kept the set simple. It was meant as a frame for her wonderful gowns with the blue background of the hall to set them off. A reviewer had a hissy fit about the staircase merging with the walls, but that was not only deliberate because of the fade out of the heroine standing there with a single candle for the final scene, but also perfectly in keeping with regency times.
Unfortunately the flats weren’t put together as well as I would have liked but that was due to a demarcation dispute, the de-mark being that the construction team was accustomed to designers who used masking tape to hide construction problems and me being used to a construction team who would construct. Stalemate.
Even years later I still see parts of that set used for publicity flyers.
You can show off a beautiful set or you can use a set to show off costumes. Actually, you can even do both at the same time. As a designer, you choose.