Stock Scenery


Students will learn about the three basic types of stock scenery—flats, platforms, and stairs. They will become familiar with the names and pieces of the scenery and learn about measuring the dimensions for the construction of each type of scenery. They will begin work in groups on a piece of stock scenery.



Materials Needed

Have all the lumber necessary for each pair in your class to begin construction on various stock sizes of flats. Have an example of each type of stock scenery so you can show the pieces of it. Have listed the types of flats you might need for your stock so you can give the students feasible and useful choices.



Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook
Hey, we are going to start cutting up wood and making stuff today! Who knows what stock scenery is?




INSTRUCTION: Stock scenery is stuff we can keep in storage because it is so common that we can use it over and over. There are three basic types of stock scenery.
1. Platforms. If you want to have levels in your show, you need platforms. Platforms can be pretty much any size and must be sturdy enough for your actors to stand/dance/jump on. Platforms are basically a flat connected to a leg unit
2. Stairs. Well, if you are going to have platforms, you’d best have a way of getting onto them. Stairs for theatre are a bit different than normal stairs, the rise is higher and the tread is shorter so you use up less space going up and down.
3. Flats. We will be making flats today and the next two class periods. Before we can construct them we need to know the different kinds and the parts of a flat (try to have somewhere where you can sketch this all out and label it for them)
a. There are two types of flats-Hollywood and Broadway. Hollywood lay the width of the lumber on the ground and broadway puts the thickness on the ground (remember to show T x W x L in order to classify lumber types). This can be further broken down into hard or soft cover flats. Hard cover use plywood and soft cover use canvas. What might you use each type for? Soft cover flats are treated with a mixture of 1 part glue 3 parts water after they have been stapled on. Make sure you cut it too big because it will shrink.
b. There are several components to a flat, but two basic types, the lumber and fasteners. Lumber first
i. Rails-These are the top and bottom pieces of lumber that determine the width of the flat
ii. Stiles-these are the side pieces of lumber that determine the height of the flat. Remember that in the butt joints used to make flats, the rail is on the top of the stile at the top and underneath the stile on the bottom.
iii. Toggles-these are the pieces of lumber that give support to soft cover flats. They should be placed every 3-4 feet.
iv. Corner braces-these help keep a soft cover flat square.
v. Fasteners-corner blocks, for stile and rail joints
vi. Half-straps, for fastening the corner braces to the rail and stile
vii. Straps-for fastening the toggles to the stiles.
c. All of these pieces are fastened together with glue first and then staples or nails. Now we can create a cut list. We need to remember what size of flat we are making, what size of lumber we are using, if it is a Hollywood or Broadway flat, and what the actual dimensions (not nominal) of our lumber is.

MODELING: Create and example cut list on the board. – 4’x 8’ soft cover Broadway flat made with 1×4 lumber (actual ¾” x 3 ½”)
Rails: (2) ¾” x 3 ½” x 4’ Stiles: (2) ¾” x 3 ½” x 7’ 5”
Toggle: (1) ¾” x 3 ½” x 3’ 5” Cover: 4’x 8’ canvas
(2) corner braces (4) corner blocks
(2) straps (4) half-straps

CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING: Have the students pick a type of flat and create a cut list on the board together. List what tools will be necessary to cut and build this flat.

GUIDED PRACTICE: Once you are sure the students understand how to make a flat, have each pair or trio come pick a type of flat to make together for the next few class periods. Do not let them begin cutting until you have reviewed their cut and tool list. Make sure that each student has a copy of the cut list and that they also turn one into you. Do not let them begin building until you have reviewed their cut lumber and are confident that they know how to use the glue and other tools that will be necessary.




Allow time for student to clean up. Have them put the stock scenery away by calling out a type of scenery and having them locate it and put it away. Have them turn in their cut and tool list if it is prepared. If it is not, make sure they know to complete it by the next class period.




Students can be assessed through class participation and by turning in a form with the dimensions for the type of stock scenery that will be used in their own construction.