Stage Designs of Richard Finkelstein

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Richard Finkelstein
630 Stonewall Dr
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Finkelstein Stage Designs - simplified resume
Dance Photography by R. Finkelstein
Dance Artwork by Richard Finkelstein


Fine Arts Photography by R. Finkelstein



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Set Design and Lighting Design by R. Finkelstein

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is © 2012 R. Finkelstein


Dracula: - Scenic  Design by R. Finkelstein - University of Colorado at Boulder.  Depicted below: Photos from the production




The setting began with a raked stage arranged in a cruciform shape. Various areas of transition were carved into the basic stage shape, especially at the intersections of the cross. Down stage, platforms and stairs descended into the pit, and this became a major entrance.

At the rear of the stage, there were a series of translucent, textured, light-reactive drops. The treatment of the texture elements resembled long-dead vines. Another drop motif used the same treatment to create a hint of the exterior/interior of the castle, depending on how it was lit.

The scenic elements proper were all skeletal and minimal. There were a series of 6 columns, built in perspective, as well as a door unit which could very quickly slide on stage while a window unit with cornice and sheer curtains could fly in to match.

While the set had a hint of Gothic flair, as in the clustered style of the column shafts, there was also a hint of Art Nouveau, in some of the vine forms and the column capitals.

The set was rendered in blacks and greys with hints of white as in the sheer curtains, along with hints of silver veining. These silver and white elements were designed to react with the strong colors of the lighting.

The environment made liberal use of pyro effects including fog and smoke, but also quiet fans were used at key moments to blow the sheer curtains.

Notes on the Design Choices:

Dracula is a tale full of passions and emotion. In the design I set out to create an environment that would allow for full expression of these elements of the mind and spirit, unencumbered by traditional scenery elements. In this design, all scenery we conceived to react with light and shadow. Textures and surfaces were enhanced. Even the drops were rendered in three dimensional texures onto a translucent base. They could be made to glow with light transmitted through them, but the drops could also be side-lit so as to emphasize a rock-like texture.

The action in Dracula needs to flow effortlessly. So many of our memories of the work come from the many film portrayals were scenery changes happen at an instant. In our stage version as well, changes of scenery happen at an instant.

Motifs of movement and space become important to the lore of Dracula. In the literary, stage, and cinema, Dracula can move with stealth and grace and call into play a supernatural repertoire of movement choices. In the design I worked to support a wide variety of these movement possibilities.

First I created a space as multi-dimensional as possible. The stage itself was raked so that every part of the area was presented at a different level. The columns and walls were all designed in perspective to enhance the third dimension of depth. The set was also designed in layers, allowing one layer of space to part to reveal even deeper layers. Behind the walls and drops, an upper level could be provided. Coupled with a creative use of fog, performers could be made to float above the stage action proper. The third page of stage photos in this portfolio, depicts one of these moments.

While the dimension of height was used in scenery and in the movement repertoire supported, so too was the access extending below the stage. Entrances could be accomplished from beneath the acting area down stage. The feeling was as though characters could materialize from right out of the audience’s domain. Of course these conventions also had a wonderful tie-in with traditional religious drama forms of the renaissance, with entrances from hell and heaven.

While the cluster columns provided a hint of the Gothic as did the overall stone-gray coloration of the setting, there were also hints of the Art Nouveau. This allowed me a palette of visual irony. Art Nouveau forms are all about life, growth, and the nurturing of organic energy. In this instance, these sensibilities were twisted. Instead of vines of life, the forms used in the set suggested forms from which life has ebbed, forms choked of their life till only a bleak structure remains. In this I attempted to indicate the dark side of Art Nouveau. I wanted to show a corruption of nature through a corruption of this most nature oriented of art motifs.

Light, shadow, and color is important to the world of Dracula. Light in this world provides the currency of emotion. By providing a myriad of three-dimensional surfaces, forms, and textures, the space came alive with light, or displayed the characteristics of the world of death. The translucent drops allowed for the integration of sheets of glowing light. Transformations of the stage picture through light were very striking.