Threepenny Opera Arthur Dirks
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The Threepenny Opera

By Bertolt Brecht
and Kurt Weill

Produced: October, 1986
Bridgewater State College
Director: Suzanne Ramczyk
Scenery: Arthur Dirks
Facility: Campus Center Auditorium


This was the second time I had done this show. I don't think I found my feet in either design. The director brought an eclectic approach to the script, which was becoming popular at the time. The idea was to be expressive of the types in an exaggerated way, and to emphasize the presentational aspects that Brecht uses in other plays, but keep the show visually active and interesting.

The big scenic feature is the proscenium, which is a free-standing show portal built well downstage. I had done this in Chicago and had found the Victorian portal particularly useful in My Fair Lady. It was an engineering feat, with two heavy trusses (all wood) joined at center into one lintel, supported by 2' by 4' columns anchored into the floor. In back of the opening was a traveller for the act curtain, and a lighting truss, all supported on the portal.

The reason we took this approach is an auditorium problem. It is 20' from first row to curtain, and in the period of getting in the audience's face - the kind of Brecht we wanted to do - this was not helpful. So we built out over the pit since it has no elevator, and the director wanted to extend into the house like a burlesque ramp. It was an interesting idea, but we didn't fill the house and people tended to move back rather than sit in the area traversed by the ramp.

The rest of the scenery was constructed props and rented drops.

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All original content © 2007 copyright Arthur L. Dirks