Saddleworth Players

Set, game and match

Hi, I’m Keith Begley, the set builder (I do have help for which I am very grateful, because without it I would be very hard-pressed to complete the job in time for curtain-up).

We set-builders enjoy the work for a variety of reasons: we like building things, we like the challenge of meeting the specification and we like having something useful to do. Mainly we like being involved in the creative process and contributing to the ‘magic of the theatre’.

Saddleworth Players do five plays per season and this one (Spring and Port Wine) is my twelfth. Obviously I’m still learning, but I’ve learned a lot already. The sheer variety of periods and settings plus the ambition of the playwright ensures that. This current production might seem fairly uncomplicated: the living room of a 1930s house in the 1960s home of a solid working family in Bolton. It doesn’t sound too difficult; even the set designer’s plan suggest it will be straightforward.

Of course nothing ever is and the first obstacle to overcome on this occasion was literally physical because the ‘green room’ (the backstage space for the actors) is being refurbished and the inevitable disruption resulted in most of the stage being taken up with displaced things, considerably restricting the working space. It also led to a delayed start, exacerbated by the absence of my assistant set-builders due to holidays etc. The upshot was instead of my usual six week allocation for the build I had only four, with the first two on my own.

Thereafter the challenge is simply to construct something that is in keeping with the basic design, but tempered by the nature and personality of the householder, who in this case appears to be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, so no ‘swinging sixties’ then. Finally, we have to make sure there are no glaring anomalies like 21st century styles that would catch attention, break the spell and spoil the play.

Keith Begley, Oct 6, 2016