With just three weeks before King of Elfland’s Daughter takes to the Royal McPherson stage, students and staff are hard at work making everything from set pieces to costume accessories. Exploratory students are painting the sets designed by Sam Witt ’07, now a business student at the University of Victoria, who is volunteering his time to bring this year’s musical to life.
“It’s a new show, a new fantasy world,” says Sam. “It was quite a challenge.”
Sam is working with French teacher Anna Strauss, who is the scenic artist for the set, and house parent Dan Murtland, who is constructing some of the set pieces. Art teacher Leanna Wilkins has also lent a hand to the undertaking, as have some of the boarding students.
For the major pieces, Sam has recruited a set builder from the Pacific Opera of Victoria, who worked on the sets of Colin Skinner’s productions. Though managing the set and the many people working on it is a challenging task, Sam is glad for the opportunity to use his creativity and to gain even more experience in theatre.
“It’s a learning experience for me as much as for the kids,” he says.
Most of the play takes place in three very different environments, or in transitional spots between them. Each environment needs to be distinct from the others, but there are huge time limitations when switching locations on stage. To combat this, Sam has designed pieces that can work in multiple settings and combined pieces whenever possible.
He also strikes a balance between life-like detail and distraction, as the set is meant to enhance the action on the stage, not detract from it. Most importantly, he works very closely with the production’s director, Mr. Douglas Manson-Blair, to create the set the play’s author wants.
“It’s Douglas’ vision,” says Sam. “I’m just using my vision on his.”