A to Z Challenge – D is for Design

Set design can range from extreme minimalist to building intricate rooms and buildings. I first learned about minimalist when my kids were studying theatre in high school and entering play competitions. Here in the United States high schools and middle schools compete in University Interscholastic League (UIL) competitions, and the sets, costumes and props are all minimalistic. That puts the focus on the actor and his or her ability to portray a character.

Perhaps that is why I have been drawn to plays that call for little set design. I love to watch a character come to life through sheer talent. In our current rehearsals for “Our Town” is has been wonderful to see the characters emerge as the players are no longer just spitting out lines, but making little magical moments happen on stage.

But I digress.

A directors dream is to be invited to the International Thespian Society’s annual festival. Texas Theatre Director Luis Muñoz directed a group of 90-plus students from around the state in the production of “Coram Boy” for the All-State Thespian company, and the show was invited to the national festival.

Image Courtesy of The Leaguer – UIL Official Publication

This picture from a rehearsal of “Coram Boy” is typical of a bare-stage production for the UIL competitions.

While most of the staging I do is minimalistic, I do appreciate a beautiful set and admire the set designers who can bring a scene to life that way. Doing some online research,I found an article in The Guardian that shows the ten best theatre designs in pictures, and those sets are amazing.

A top set designer is Rae Smith who works as a scene designer for theatrical productions all over the world. For her design of “War Horse” she won a 2011 Tony Award for Best Scene Design.


Having seen the movie, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could have brought those scenes to life on a stage, but that is what a good set designer can do. From this picture, I can see why Smith won the Tony. This is amazing.

When you go to plays do you prefer an intricate set design, or something simple?

2 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge – D is for Design”

  1. I saw Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios recently and it had a pretty minimalist set design with some doors, a few chairs and something that could be used as a table. It was brilliant because the focus was completely on the actors. However I also love productions like Les Mis with complicated sets, so I think it all depends on the play.

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