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  • Writer's pictureVillage Playhouse

Theater Magic on a Budget

1. Wooden cube and bench 2. Thrifted thrones, white columns, lots of fabric and antique chaise lounge

Creating Herod Antipas’ palace for Salomé with an essentially zero budget requires “out of the box” thinking. The performance space at Inspiration Studios is small, too, presenting a second challenge. Director Tom Zuehlke directed Salomé some years ago. In that production, he hung fabric from the venue’s ceiling to create a palace atmosphere. The ceiling at Inspiration Studios is regular height; the walls and floor are painted black. Zuehlke decided to use the platforms usually used for seating onstage. Herod and Herodias’ thrones were purchased at a rummage sale many years ago. These were used when Zuehlke directed Salomé the first time and just needed paint and gold braid replaced. An antique chaise lounge was used on the set. Although not accurate to the play’s time period, it helped set the play’s scene.

Long panels of fabric were hung on the walls to create a palace feel. Upholstery fabric found in a box became carpet in the throne area. A curtain became a rug for the chaise lounge. Wood cubes used in another production were painted gray. Benches from a past production were used, too. Small white columns were used to further set the play’s scene.

1. Upholstery fabric becomes carpet. 2. Curtain becomes carpet.

To simulate real ones, solar tiki torches were used. Theater companies tend to accumulate lots of dishes and glasses. For Salomé, copper goblets plus metal bowls and trays from existing theater inventory were used. Real AND fake grapes were used since actors were supposed to eat on stage.

The executioner’s sword was borrowed from Voices Found Repertory. Their generosity and graciousness were much appreciated since rental cost would have been approximately $100. The soldiers’ swords were borrowed from the stage manager’s friend. Truly, this generosity is appreciated so much since the cost to rent weapons was money we did not have to spend.

The result is a show that looks as if a lot of money was spent. We were able to reduce/reuse/recycle to create theater magic.

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