Building a team while building a set

Building a set.
Building a set.
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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By award-winning blogger Trish Burgess

The perfect Sunday: a lie-in, full English breakfast, newspapers, roast dinner, a snooze in the garden...

Or how about donning scruffy clothes and joining your AmDram mates for a day of set-building?

I was so tempted by the former option but, sadly, manual labour was part of the deal I signed up to when I accepted the role of Gran in the next SADOS production of Family Planning. However, coffee was provided and fellow cast member, Nathan, had brought doughnuts and brownies so it wasn’t all 

Building the set before we reach the South Holland Centre is actually a very useful task. Rather than have months of acting in an empty space, trying to imagine where the doors will be, the set is constructed in our rehearsal shed before being taken down and re-erected in the theatre.

Probably the most complicated part of the set creation was the issue of how to create Gran’s bedroom upstairs, with the rest of the action occurring downstairs. There was a lot of discussion using theatre terms such as ‘flats’ and ‘sight lines’. Walls were constructed, a clever cutaway fashioned with a jigsaw and my bed was raised at one end using blocks so that the audience can see my lovely face. Everyone worked very hard whether they were the holding the drills or holding the walls steady.

The living room was painted a bright lemon but Gran’s room needed to have wallpaper as it’s specifically referred to in the script. Never having wallpapered in our lives, Dougie and I were given this job to do and we soon had to learn about pattern repeats and the swift elimination of bubbles. Dougie, reminded of his days in the operating theatre, started requesting me to pass him things – brush, tape measure, scalpel. Yes, scalpel. He preferred this to a Stanley knife for precision cutting. I felt as if I were in a scene from Holby City.

We very nearly did end up in casualty. Someone had an accident. That someone was the resident doctor, slicing his finger with a saw. He assured us it didn’t need stitches, only some glue but, unfortunately, his own bottle had dried up. You’d have thought with all the tool boxes the macho chaps had brought along, someone would have had a tube of Superglue. No. The day was saved by Colette, who keeps Superglue in her handbag at all times in case of acrylic nail breakages.

After a long day, tools were downed and we headed home, pleased with how much we had achieved. There is still some way to go, not least finishing the wallpapering and putting actual doors into the frames. It was a day of hard work but there was also a lot of laughter. We are building a set but, more than that, we are building a team.

You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at