THEA 3167         

Introduction to Set Design

Instructor:  R. Cooper 


Phone:  705-945-8165


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"An introduction to the principles of good design for the stage.  Although this course will deal primarily with theatre, some attention may be paid to television and movies.  Students may not retain credit for both of THEA 3117 E and 3167 E.   (LEC3/EXP3) (3cr)."


Drawing and drafting equipment, erasers, 1/4" graph paper, sketch paper.                                  Petty cash for theatre tickets.


This course will explore ways to design scenery and lighting that is appropriate for the conditions under which the play will be presented.  Topics include styles of design, drafting and perspective for the scene designer, script analysis, scene painting and decoration techniques.   Participation in actual productions is an important part of this course


The theatrical scene designer is said to be the one person who unites all the visual elements of the theatre.  While some scene design work forms part of the Basic Stagecraft course (THEA2167), this course allows the student to study, in depth, the craft of the scenic designer and the role of scenic design in theatrical productions.


Regular attendance as per the University Regulations is required.  Your fellow students require your input and assistance.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to :

  1. recognize significant theatrical set design styles;
  2. analyze a script for scenic needs;
  3. create the necessary drawings to adequately describe the scenery in order that it may be built and painted;
  4. paint typical scenic units.


Please note that participation (i.e., attendance, punctuality, and constructive contribution) will be mandatory and marks will be deducted to a maximum of 10% of the final grade for lack of it

Assignment % Due
Assignments 20% Weekly
Preliminary Sketch  5% Jan 10
Design Project #1 20% Feb 7 - 9
Set Critique 15% Mar 7
Design Project #2 30% Mar 21
Final Seminars 10% April 4 - 6

Please note that a missing assignments will result in a  grade of zero (0) for that assignment.  These must be handed in within one (1) week of the date the assignment was due.  A penalty of 10% per day , including weekends, will be assessed on all late assignments.  No make-ups will be permitted for in-class quizzes, announced or unannounced.


Students are expected to intern with a community groups of their choice, after consultation with the instructor.  They will keep a record of their experiences as part of their weekly Journal entries, which they will submit every Monday.  They will also keep a record of the time they spent, they work they did, and the person(s) with whom they worked.  These sponsors will be consulted regarding the student's assistance.  Forms for this will be provided.

Please note that internship participation does NOT exempt students from attending their classes during the day. 


Students will keep a journal in which they will record ideas and reactions which they think might become useful in the immediate or distant future.  It is expected that these journals will include clippings, sketches, plans, ideas, reactions, and anything else that will show the instructor that the student is actively thinking about theatre design outside of class time.  They will be graded our of 5 marks per week on the basis of completeness (daily entries), depth of thought and analysis, creativity, and enthusiasm.



Gillette, J. M. M.  (1999).  Theatrical Design and Production: An Introduction to Scene Design and Construction, Lighting, Sound, Costume, and Makeup.   Boston:  McGraw Hill.  (You may use the fifth edition, published in 2004.) 

 A good dictionary.


Parker, W. O., Wolf, R. C., Block, D.   (2003).  Scene Design and Stage Lighting. Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning.

Essig, L.  (2005).  Lighting and the Design Idea.  Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning.

Sweet, H.  (1995).  The Complete Book of Drawing for the Theatre.  Toronto:  Allyn and Bacon.

AutoCad drafting programme.

SCHEDULE:  Winter 2005

Note: Journals A are to be handed in every Monday (and returned to you every Wednesday).





Jan 3 - 5

Course Introduction, syllabus,       assignments. Gillette Ch 2: Design Process    Q1* Floor Plans


Jan 10 - 12

Preliminary Sketches (5%) Gillette Ch 3: Theatre Architecture Hand in journals A** every Monday Theatre Architecture                    


Jan 17 - 19

Script Analysis (n/10)            Gillette Ch 5: Style, Composition & Design Style, Composition & Design   Model Building Workshop (Ch 20)


Jan 24 - 26

Gillette Ch 7: Scenic Design Scenic Design                        Perspective Drawing Workshop (Ch 20 & 21)


Jan 31 - Feb 2

Gillette Ch 6: Colour Lights and Colour Workshop w.   Dr. Derek Mohamed - speaker.   Get notes from colleagues.


Feb 7 - 9 

Work on sets for Miracle Plays Work on sets for Miracle plays


Feb 14 - 16

Miracle Plays Miracle Plays

Feb 21 - 23

Reading Week Reading Week


Feb 28 - Mar 2

Design Project #1 (20%)       The Attic, the Pearls, and Three Fine Girls:  Sault Youth Theatre Bring scripts for selection                 The Attic, the Pearls, and Three Fine Girls


Mar 7 - 9 

Bring preliminary floor plan Group design


Mar 14 - 16

Bring preliminary perspective  Group design meetings             Set Critique (15%)

Group design meetings           


Mar 21 - 23

Bring construction drawings    Build sets Build sets


Mar 30

Easter Monday

Build sets


Apr 4 - 6

Technical Rehearsal                       Design Project #2 (30%)     Final Seminars (10%) Dress Rehearsal                             Final Seminars (cont'd.)

Apr 9 - 29

Final Exams Final Exams
Q = Quizz                ** A = Assignmnent  (Other assignments will be given as appropriate)

Important Note:   A participation mark out of 5 will be assessed each class on the basis of attendance, individual work, and contribution to the group.

Also, please bring in your work for comments and suggestions for your final project as noted in the schedule.