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


Evening: - Scenic  Design & Projection Design by R. Finkelstein - Produced at the University of Cincinnati - College Conservatory of Music - World Premiere of this extended one-act play by John Pielmeier. Depicted is the unit set showing two examples of the projection design. The center screen is of a Rear projection type, while the side screens are front projection on silverized slit scrim type material.



Description of the Settings:

The space was arranged on rather formal geometries. There was a gloss black platform area about 24 foot square on which sat a second, gray-carpeted, square platform. The carpeted platform was not centered on the black platform and thus provided for variation in the surrounding playing space.

Within the set of Evening, a tree was suggested in the center of the space. This tree was rigged to fly in through the egg-crate catwalk system we had built for the theatre. The tree was very textured and dimensional but through a unique stylization, it was possible to see through the tree to action beyond.

Framing the stage, I used a type of slit metallic scrim-like material to produce a front-projection surface of exceptionally high gain. It allowed me to use off-the-shelf blimped 300 watt Kodak Ektagraphic projectors from the front to balance the 1100 watt Buel Hi-Light projector used in the center in a rear-screen configuration. The noise of the Buel projector was muted by the screen and the distance.

Design Foundations:

As in the case of Mr. Pielmeier’s most known play, Agnes of God, Evening is centered in the arena of personal relationships, but unlike Agnes, this play is very delicate in its explorations. The action covers a couple in love in Appalachia from the time of their youth in school. While there are many characters in the play the action centers most directly on the two of these individuals.

The play is infused with the folk idiom of the Appalachian life from dulcimer playing to the dialects. The play is very personal and poetic in its use of language. One must wonder if there are autobiographic elements in this work. The play is charged with emotion as the relationship is explored through happy moments and moments of great turmoil in the relationship.

While I often view my job as designer through terms of supporting movement themes, in this case the task was largely to support the emotive themes. To reflect the spare poetry of the dialogue I opted for the simplest of environments, an actor on a platform in front of an audience. I used the essence of the tree to capture the feeling of being in love in a meadow. The set is designed to be intensely light reactive, allowing it to change and support the myriad of complex changes of mood and dramatic texture.

This scheme also allowed for effective support for the other new plays in the repertoire of the festival. Many of the photos on the projection test example page reflect the setting for Sandra Pearlman’s play, Uniform Love. In many ways this play was the antithesis of Evening. While Evening was delicate, Uniform love was most brash. While Evening was set in the country in a time of self reflection, perhaps the 1940s or early 1950s, Uniform Love was clearly a suburban play set in the 1960s.

While Evening is serious in its exploration of the human condition, Uniform love is a mad romp, a fast-paced tv-sketch-like ditty. The action involves a bored housewife who will do anything for a man in uniform.

In the design of Uniform Love, the basic environment was maintained, however select changes were made that provided a simple, but marked contrast in emotive underpinning. The upper platform was rotated to a 45 degree angle. It’s texture was changed from that of a neutral carpet to a brash suggestion of 1960s linoleum run amok. The organic form of the tree was replaced with calculated white recti-linear forms of the 1960s suburbs. The space becomes the essence of the "little box made of ticky-tacky."

The projections too are wrought in different styles to reflect the styles of the shows. The projection work for Evening is organic, and reflects the rich colors of the mountains of Kentucky in the spring and fall. The projections for Uniform Love were angular and typified by the funky color combinations so popular in the "mod" era.