Drama student makes most of set design opportunity

Designing the set for the University Players production of Nine Girls was daunting, says fourth-year drama major Joshua Quinlan, but he got through it with the support of faculty and staff.

“I have learned so much from this experience—especially my mistakes,” says Quinlan, who plans to pursue graduate study in scenic and costume design.

He credits director Brian Taylor, professor William Pinnell and art designer David Court, as well as master carpenter Nick DiRisio, technical coordinator Danielle MacKinnon and properties coordinator Valerie Bonasso for support through the nine-month process, from initial concepts through finished drawings, the set construction and painting.

“My set has to reflect the director’s vision for the staging,” Quinlan says. “The script included the original floor plans, which we didn’t follow at all.”

The play—a comic murder mystery—is set in a mountain cabin and Quinlan says he wanted to create a space that provided lots of room for suspicion.

“It needed to be realistic to ground the play, to bring the audience into the environment so they can believe the characters,” he says.

Among his favourite elements in the finished set are stuffed and mounted animals provided by the Windsor Sportsmen’s Club: “I love the way they suggest death.”

The play’s run continues through March 17 at Essex Hall Theatre. For information or tickets, visit www.UniversityPlayers.com or phone 519-253-3000, ext. 2808.

Nine Girls set

Nine Girls, a comic murder mystery, opened Thursday at Essex Hall Theatre. Fourth-year drama major Joshua Quinlan designed its set, a sorority clubhouse in California’s Sierra mountains. Click on the photo to enlarge.

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