17 February Members Evening

Ian Gledhill

The highlight of the Dramatic Society's Members Evening was a talk by Ian Gledhill, once professional actor, theatre company manager, and latterly an opera set designer. The talk was entitled Art and Illusion; theatre set design from Sophocles to Spiderman, in which he traced the entire history of stage scenery with fascinating insights to the origins of the words we use to describe the various parts of our theatres and the development of art of stage set design.

We learned that 'The Gods', now thought of as the highest part of the theatre where the cheap seats are, was once a small booth at the top of the stage from which gods were literally lowered on ropes as a play required. We were shown the amazing Drottingholm Palace Theatre where a still-functioning eighteenth century mechanism can change a set in twelve seconds, something that can't be done today. He completed his presentation by showing us his design for an enormous Spiderman set for a stunt show at a theme park; the scenery was computer drawn and painted, and printed on to huge sheets to be hung from scaffolding.

As he began his talk Ian could be seen painting a couple of light lines on a rectangle of grey board; he laid this aside to dry but took it up again at the end of his talk, painting in two other darker strips. He held up the result for us to see: and there was a section of wall panelling to all intents three dimensional: that was an illusion.

The evening was rounded off with a fish and chip supper and the raffle.

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