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Imagine building the city of London on a budget of only $1500, in a space of 800 square feet. They, like all stage designers, will be both aided and restricted by the physical resources available to them -- the dimensions of the stage, the lighting equipment, the wood and nails-as they adapt the playwright's work to three dimensions. "We have a very limited budget and a limited time frame," said Schmidt last week. "We do the best we can with what we have." According to Schmidt, students' determined efforts will compensate for the lack of time and money. "Student groups rely a lot on the dedication of the students to pull off productons which should cost a lot more money than they do," he said. Schmidt estimated that he and three workers will work a total of 500 hours to create sets that will look real to the audience but will still be easy to move around the stage. But the manual labor is just one part of the complicated process of creating a set. Both the director and the set designer research past productions of the show, and each forms an idea of what the stage should look like. After the two confer, most of the responsibility goes to the designer, Schmidt said. "You do a lot of drawings and come up with your own ideas, having everything or nothing to do with what you knew before," he added. Each show presents different challenges. Threepenny Opera, for example, has three separate finales and moves rapidly from location to location. According to Lighting Director Simon, a College senior, she and the rest of the technical staff are formulating a "seamless" show, in which transitions between scenes are accomplished as if they are part of the action. Unlike most shows, the lights will never dim completely, and set changes will occur in one part of the stage while actors play a scene in another. But sets also help create a mood. The action of Threepenny takes place in the seedy underworld of a disintegrating city and Simon said she is looking forward to creating this dingy effect. "These people live in squalor," she said. "It's always fun to create squalor." The structure of the Harold Prince Theatre is well suited to creating any type of atmosphere, Simon said, because of its designed with a network of catwalks, presenting an infinite number of possible positions for each light. "The possibilities in the Prince are pretty much controlled by your creativity," said Simon. And according to Technical Director Brad Reimer, Schmidt has already introduced some experimental design ideas. "Usually you take a couple platforms. . . you find something that looks like what you want, and you put them up on stage," said the Wharton junior. "We're going to be using some special techniques to build what we want or represent what we want." Schmidt said he will be using scrim curtain, a material which is opaque when lit from the front and transparent when lit from behind, so it can function as both a wall and a window.

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