Behind-the-scenes: Backstage extended interview

Backstage designers Noah Woodward and Jessica Smith discuss making the stage turn into a work of art


With the conclusion of the AHS Theatre Company’s play A Line in the Sand, many may wonder how the cage and monitor set piece on either side of the stage came to be. Media designer Jessica Smith and technical director and set designer Noah Woodward reveal the process of creating such work, as well as other aspects of staging the proper set for a play.

What is your job and what type of duties do you have?

Jessica; I am the media designer and my job is to have contact displayed on the monitors so transitions can go smoothly and that way people can kind of get a better idea of what’s going on in the scenes.

Noah: I am the technical director at Annandale Theatre Company. Also I am the set designer, so what that means is that I’m in charge of all the technical aspects, in the theatre program which means I am in charge of all the props, all the set designs and a little bit with shifting and saying where things go.

What was the general process for setting up the cage?

Jessica: We got monitors and we bolted them onto the cage and then what we do for content is  I got videos off of youtube and pictures off of google images  and I put them into PowerPoint and arranged them chronologically depending on the scene. We just wanted to make it really grungy and disgusting.

Noah: It was a whole three week process, its basically all metal pipes put together, 300 pounds a piece, it has even monitors on each side. First, I had to do a detailed drawing of which pipes I wanted where because it is a lot of money to spend; about $10 a pipe. $200 a cage. Overall, was probably close to a thousand dollars. I had to put a list together [of the needed parts], then write out a P.O (a work order for the school saying I could the school credit card, I had to go over to Home Depot and buy a the stuff. It’s a long process. Some other people helped me with the cage.

What are some the challenges that you faced in creating the cage and setting up media?

Jessica: We had to wield in the pipes into the stage and that was a big issue. Another challenge that we didn’t have enough supplies and that delayed things and the fact that Ms. Vinas worked with us just recently, so we had a lot of changes

Noah: One of the hardest parts was probably finding set pieces to put as a background so it wouldn’t seem bland.

What is the purpose of the cage (or other parts of the stage) and does it have any sort of special meaning to it?

Jessica: Its basically the cage of racism. At the beginning of the play when racism is a problem we have white people standing in there [the cage]. We had barbed wire and stained paper that symbolizes racism on it.

The point of the cage is to symbolize how racism entraps you and keeps you captured you in the 50’s, and how people were stuck and couldn’t get out. We also have a brick wall that unfinished on purpose. On one side it’s completely finished, saying that’s the beginning of the ‘50s when you couldn’t break through the wall as a colored person. You were stuck in that time, but over time the wall broke down because you broke that wall of racism. You were once again, quote on quote, free.