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


Spider's Web- Scenic and Lighting Design by R. Finkelstein - This Agatha Christie Mystery was produced by The New York State Theatre Institute at "The Egg" in Albany. Direction was by Ed Lange. The setting demonstrates, among other things, the creative use of old-style perspective scenery. The ceiling, for instance has only 5.5 feet of depth, it just LOOKS much larger due to the use of stage illusion arts largely lost to the rest of the industry. Depicted are a production photo followed by a photo of the white model

Spider's Web by Agatha Christie - Set Design by Richard Finkelstein, Stage Designer

Spider’s Web
(Scenic & Lighting Design)


This was a large scale production designed for The New York State Theatre Institute’s 1,000 seat auditorium in The "Egg" in Albany, New York. They have a tradition of producing an Agatha Christie work each year, and their preference if for a set in a realistic style. Since I was limited in the choice of style of scenery, I worked hard to make this design rich in detail and depth.

Description of the Design:

This is in many ways a traditional box set, only richly layered. The setting includes a hint of the outside of the British manor house. The playing space also extends around corners and down hallways to the rear, making for a very rich degree of depth.

All detail in the architecture was fully built, and the setting was designed in perspective to further enhance the feeling of scale and depth. The ceiling in fact, was only 6 feet in depth.

The walls were decorated with stained wallpaper. The props and furniture were all real antiques valued at $40,000 for this production. The floor was painted with an FEV finish to simulate polished wood.

Conceptual and Text Considerations:

If Agatha Christie were Shakespeare, this would be one of her problem plays. One expects meticulous attention to detail and verisimilitude in the work of a mystery writer, but I frankly find many lapses in the work of Christie in this regard. You can see in the portfolio that I have included a timeline of action that I generated. This was because as lighting designer, I found Christie’s use of time problematic.

The prime murder for instance occurs in this central hall at 4:00 pm in the afternoon in the summer; and yet it is supposed to be pitch black in the room.

There’s also a "secret panel" that is not secret to anyone, even those new to the space.

In dealing with these inconsistencies in writing, I worked to achieve as high a degree of detailed realism as I could within the theatrical milieu.

Important to the text is the way in which light distributes through the room. The script calls for indirect lighting on the ceiling. This seems to parallel the murky world of the action of the characters in the work. In this design I used a theatre trick to achieve the effect of the indirect lighting on the ceiling. Instead of coming from within the room, the light I used came through the translucent ceiling material from above.

Other directional light could come through the windows and play in a dramatic way on the characters, and the wall sconces too added dimension to the work.

Overall, the feeling of the room was in somewhat ironic contrast to the traditions of murder mysteries. This is not a work of great weight and so I did not want to produce a set with a heavy feel. This set rather had a feeling of air and lightness.

Comments from the Press:

Hartt, Rick. Poly, The. 10/17/1990 "Walk into the theatre at the Egg and Richard Finkelstein's set is as striking and beautiful as the lobby is unusual. He has played the most creative mind games to give us a larger-than-life view that is the perfect counterpoint."