Theatrical Backdrop for Sydney Harbour Show
This project was a 220 square metre theatrical backdrop for West Side Story, which showed outdoors by Sydney Harbour.
It required a single cloth being used for five different scenic applications throughout the show, achieved by utilising light, print methods and fabrication techniques.
Location: Sydney Harbour
The purpose of this project was to provide a backdrop for the show directly behind the stage. It required a single cloth being used for five different scenic applications throughout the show, achieved by utilising light, print methods and fabrication techniques.
The backdrop also needed to withstand 90 km/ph winds and be supported by a large truss infrastructure. It had to be fire retardant, made of breathable mesh and be tensioned out flat with no wrinkles for aesthetic purposes.
This project was incredibly unique in that it required five different theatrical scenes on one backdrop. To achieve this, we used a mesh similar to PVC mesh.
We fabricated blockout PVC strips to create strong lines when backlit. From this angle, the backdrop clearly showed the infrastructure of the stage truss, giving the impression of Brooklyn Bridge.
Another scene called for a visual of the Statue of Liberty torch. This was achieved by using an intense, bold print on the outside of the fabric. Light was directed at the image to highlight it for certain scenes. When not lit, or when the backdrop was lit from behind, it was greatly faded.
The third significant scene requirement was the appearance of looking up underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. This was achieved by using a lighter print on the sloped area of the structure and then lighting it up from a specific angle. This was quite unique as a lot of testing print and fabric testing and light testing was required to achieve all these requests.
The complexity of the project was engineering it to withstand 90 km/ph winds and have the ability to de-rig and remove the tension skin in high winds, for safety reasons. This was achieved by utilising shade structure technology and components and implementing them into a staging application.
A stunning backdrop to the theatre show, creating multiple different scenes as briefed by the show’s art director. This solution saved the client the cost of having five removable different screens to be installed throughout the show. It also helped them with a solution that could be set before the show to limit the movements and delays within the show.
Big thanks to Staging Rentals and Opera Australia for the opportunity.