(re)Making the Declaration of Independence

  • Scenic Elements in Asolo Rep's "1776"

    November 14, 2012

    Posted By: Braden Joyce-Schleimer, Artistic Apprentice


    You probably know that 1776 marks the beginning of Asolo Rep’s five-season long American Character Project.  And what could be a more perfect show to launch this investigation than 1776?  It’s a fantastic musical which humorously and poignantly portrays the weeks leading up to the signing of the American Declaration of Independence.

    Without giving too much away, we wanted to provide a little teaser of what’s to come in 1776.  With such a massive production, it takes months of careful planning and construction to pull off all the technical elements that this show requires.  Our technical teams have been hard at work over at our Koski Performance & Production Center, putting the finishing touches on the scenery for 1776, and there’s one element that we’re particularly proud of: a giant scrim that depicts the Declaration of Independence, filling the entire proscenium arch with the words that founded our nation.

    What’s a scrim, you may ask?  It’s essentially a sheer, flat curtain that covers the entirety of the theatre’s vertical space.  Take a look below, and you’ll see how it’s made…


    First, the design of the scrim is laid out on paper.



    Once enough space in the Koski Scene Shop has been cleared, our scenic artists began laying down rolls of paper, on which the Declaration of Independence has been printed in large-scale.  As you can see, there is a lot of paper to be laid out and attached together.  This process took days.



    Now that all the paper has been laid out, the sheer scrim is laid on top of the paper, so that our scenic artists can begin tracing each letter by hand with black paint.


    Once the entirety of the Declaration has been traced, the scrim is removed from its paper backing.  You can see how the paint has been transferred onto the scrim.


    Then the paper that served as our artists’ tracing guide is removed and recycled.



    With a team of at least four people, the scrim is carefully laid back out in the workspace, and stretched slightly so that it lies taught on the floor.


    Once the scrim is ready, our scenic artists come back along to spray light layers of paint that provide slight color variances, which makes the scrim look truly like a piece of parchment when it is lit onstage.

    The finished product looks a lot like this.  Now, we could have shown you the finished product of the actual scrim, but then we'd be giving away the most touching moment of the entire show...no one likes spoilers!  We hope you'll come by and see the beautiful scrim that our scenic artists have created.  And we'll give you one hint: we save the best for last.


    Don't have tickets to 1776?

    You can get them by calling the Asolo Rep Box Office at 941-351-8000. 

    1776 opens Friday, November 16, and runs through December 22, 2012. 

    Remaining Preview performances are Wednesday Nov 14 and Thursday Nov 15.  The Box Office has a few specially priced tickets (only $17.76!) for the remaining Previews.  Tickets are going fast for all performances, so be sure to get yours today!

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