Technical theater: Set design and script analysis

Plan Author

  • Matteo Lanzarotta, 2018

Fields of Concentration

Sample Courses

  • Course: Lighting Design for the Performing Arts
  • Course: The Constructed Reality
  • Tutorial: Theater Technology
  • Course: Global Theater History and Literature

Faculty Sponsors

Outside Evaluator

  • Kathy Couch, Amherst College


This Plan of Concentration includes a written component titled “Treadwell’s Machinal exposes the inner workings of the heterpatriarchy.” In addition to the essay, part of my Plan has been to design a set design for possible production of Machinal, as if it were to be performed in Marlboro College’s Whittemore Theater. This is followed by a proposal for revitalizing, reorganizing, and rethinking Whittemore Theater’s woodshop, to be more efficient and support a stronger technical theater department. Finally, this Plan includes some examples of sets designed for productions of Wine in the WildernessEuridice, and Didi and Gogo.


Treadwell, having been a journalist, watched the case very closely and knew that there was a part of the story the media was missing. The story she wanted to present was not one the newspapers would take kindly to, in fact it is a message that would have been actively silenced by the very same heteropatriarchial systems she wanted to critique. By turning to theater as her medium for communication, Treadwell was able to circumvent these societal mechanisms designed to silence messages such as Machinal’s. Under the guise (for lack of a better word) of art, she had the freedom to present the story in a much more dynamic way, allowing the audience to get inside the Young Woman’s head and watch her almost logical and possibly inevitable downfall. Treadwell creates a space for sympathy that the media never allowed.

Pneumatic tools are extremely important in scenic carpentry, as they have the ability to quickly, safely, and securely attach wooden pieces with next to zero visible fasteners. While a brad nailer is a good tool, a pneumatic stapler is equally important to have because it fastens more securely and prevents strained plywood from warping out of shape. When one has to lid a flat with plywood, there is often a fair amount of pushing and pulling on the plywood to force it into position. With a brad nailer, the plywood may be strong enough to warp back out against the nails and ruin the set piece. A stapler has more strength and leaves less wiggle room, so even a very strained sheet of plywood will not be able to warp out of place.


My Plan was all sort of one big blur, involving many, many plays. It was stressful but ultimately helpful, as I want to be a set designer. I love the idea of transforming a space into many worlds.