David Adkins

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Tom Mikotowicz

Second Committee Member

Marcia Douglas

Third Committee Member

Laurie Hicks


A theatrical scene designer is responsible for creating the physical space in which a play takes place. This is accomplished through reading and analyzing the script, researching materials related to the production, discussions with the director, and collaboration with other designers. This thesis focused on the process involved in designing a set, as described by J. Michael Gillette in his book, Theatrical Design and Production, (Third Edition) and how that process was applied to Alan Ayckbourn's farce Taking Steps. The play provided a unique educational challenge for a scenic designer, as it requires that three floors of a house be designed, built, and represented on one stage level. Consequently, a design was created and six performances of the play were presented by the Maine Masque between April 18, and April 22,2001, in Hauck Auditorium at the University of Maine. This thesis is organized into an introduction, three chapters, a bibliography, and appendixes. The Introduction begins the thesis by defining the scope of the project and giving a first look at the Gillette Design Process. Chapter One provides background material on Alan Ayckbourn, information about farce as a theatrical style, and basic data on the play Taking Steps. Chapter Two documents seven of the eight Gillette design process steps: Commitment, Analysis, a Questioning Process, Research, Incubation, Selection, and Implementation. This begins with accepting the design project, continues through the creation of the design, and concludes with the completion of a set on the stage. The eighth step, Evaluation, is included in Chapter Three along with a conclusion. The Evaluation will cover both the design process and the design as an educational project. In conclusion, the production was well received and the setting provided an effective environment for the actors. A number of design challenges provided excellent educational opportunities, not the least of which was an unexpected need to relocate the audience and to design custom audience seating. Through this process, it was discovered that designers always need to improve ways to visually communicate design ideas and be able to accomplish more in-depth analysis. Despite the overall success of this production, however, more work in those areas will take my designs to another level and, hopefully, increase the chances for consistent success.