Perception---you have that power.

There is purpose in design. There is information in a setting. There is truth in your environment. Fake or real, it's there.

All images are copyrighted by Heidi Hoffer unless otherwise indicated. Your courtesy in using my photographs must include crediting me as the photographer. You must tell me when and where you've used them and send the link to me showing your use of them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Doors and Their Purpose

Doors have reasons for existing. A door leads somewhere. It opens from somewhere. Doors onstage typically frame entrance and exit lines and action. Doors invite. You wonder, don’t you, what’s beyond that door? If you walked through that door, would your life change?

It is in their use where you feel a door’s purpose.

The wonderful entrance by the spirit in Blithe Spirit is a good example of a magnificent framing designed to totally take over the scene. In the first place, the onstage scene is warm and what you see through the doors is cool. Secondly, the door is centrally located, and thirdly, it opens twice as wide as a human body. The act of the door opening and the cool silhouetted and back-lit figure is like the pupil of your eye narrowing down to the focus point.
Blithe Spirit, Designed by Frank Ludwig.

The cool colored foggy entrance of these characters behind an outdoor gate in Romeo and Juliet lets you immediately know they probably shouldn’t be there. It is night, and the place they want to go has warm colored lighting, indicating that is it probably indoors and offers some comfort.

Romeo and Juliet. Designed my Michael Riha.

In this photo, the human sized door, color, painting and surrounding say a lot about who goes into the room onstage through it. The door is of the institutional variety, belonging to a building which houses, among things, a radio station. The green of the door is much brighter green than a real institutional door, enhancing the comedic probabilities in the show. The sound effects door, seen in the lower left of the photo is a very fun true-to-life sound effects props many theatres keep on hand. It is used often but rarely seen. It is comic to see a teeny tiny door but hear its “slam” which invariably sounds bigger than the door looks.

Chaps. Designed by Chris Sousa-Wynn.

In Largo Desoloto the whole room is leaning inwards, and the door seem like to spill its framed entrant inward. Curiously, there is a barrier of a chair between the brightly lit outside and the brightly white island of a sofa with its darkly clad occupant. It is almost as if the chair makes another entranceway.

Largo Desoloto. Designed by David M. Barber.

In Lady Windemere’s Fan, the very tall walls have ornate door frame shapes on top of ornate door frame shapes. Each framed entry is completely separate from the next one creating little proscenium framed stages within each one. This suggests that the arguments before and after entrances and exits are extremely important and benefit from being so famously framed. For a farce, this is a useful and proactive design choice.

Lady Windermere’s Fan. Designed by Chris Sousa-Wynn.

In the green-lit picture of Dracula, we see a very unique do-it-yourself kind of entrance. Just rip you way right through the wall to get at what you want! Very powerful moment of theatre!

Dracula. Designed by Chris Sousa-Wynn.

In summary, it is the door or doorway’s shape and surroundings that promise what is to come. Then, when the doors are used as suggested or even contrary to the normal to slam home a reason, then you’ve done a good job figuring out the purpose of a door.