Understanding the Research Process


Students will come to an understanding of the importance of historical and stylistic research in set design. They will learn what resources to use as they consider design concepts for their assigned scene. Students will learn how to incorporate research with elemental design processes.


Materials Needed

A picture of ancient Grecian ruins, a picture of the interior of a turn-of-the-century English parlor, a picture of the interior of a Gothic Medieval Cathedral.


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Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook

Display each of the pictures and have the students determine what each picture is showing, i.e. Grecian ruins, English parlor in the 1900’s, Medieval Cathedral. Then, have the students articulate the elements in each of the pictures that helps bring them to those conclusions.



Step 1: Transition – Explain that each of the elements discussed provide historically accurate visual clues that will help the audience identify the period of the play.

Checking for Understanding – Ask students why it is important that an audience be able to identify the period of a play.

Instruction – Explain that “scenery helps the audience understand and enjoy a play by providing a visual reinforcement of the production concept.” Explain further that “a scenic design is not a reproduction; but a creation that mirrors the essence of a period to provide a physical environment that will enhance the mood and spirit of the play.”

Checking for Understanding – Ask students what type of resources they might research when planning a realistic set design.

Step 2: Modeling – Using their computers, have students look at websites that will help them understand the styles, architecture, and design trends of turn-of-the-century, middle class, England. Have everyone go to: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/1900house/house/index.html and take the virtual tour of the front parlor.

Checking for Understanding – As students peruse the sight, have them tell what sort of useful information they found for designing a Victorian parlor.

Modeling – Have students go to the search engine “Google” and type in the words “Victorian interior design.”

Checking for Understanding – Ask students how they might narrow their search even more to find the information they need to accurately represent the period through their set design.

Modeling – Have students turn to the school library catalogue and enter a general keyword search such as the one used in Google, “Victorian interior design.” Have students discover what reference materials are available to them in the library for research.

Step 3: Guided/Independent Practice – Have students begin their own search for valuable historical, design, and aesthetic information that will contribute to their final set design. Assign students the task of providing bibliographic information for at least two sources they find and can use for their design.



Students will turn in their bibliographic information.


Author’s Notes

Note – This class will take place in the library or computer lab where students have access to the internet.