Metal! That’s what the show needs. I do love a good, solid prop. I was never satisfied with props and backdrops that looked like they weren’t…permanent. Even when I was fresh out of the acting academy and getting my big breaks because of my incredible skill and talent, I used to look at the backdrops created for our plays and scorn in my mind. Why make something that doesn’t look real, for a presentation in which you are trying to convince people that what they are watching is real? Oh, it’s a subtle art, but I have had an instinct for ladders since birth. I was born to walk on these boards, to bring people an experience they have never had and never will again. Something real.
Rest assured, when my musical calls for the workmen to be standing on bailey ladders, you can bet that’s what they’ll be standing on. Not a set made to resemble scaffolding. No, real metal, brought in from a real-life company. Immersion is absolutely everything, and that’s the key to great theatre that people don’t realise.
Also, it’s safer. I’m not letting my acting workmen walk around on top of a set when they could be standing on scaffolding guaranteed to hold their weight. I’m not a maniac who’ll set my actors on fire if I think it’ll get a cheap reaction; I’ve BEEN in their position, after all. I’m a genius, an innovator and absolutely brilliant, but I have a bit of empathy. That, also, is part of a great show.
I have not yet found a way to set people on fire and do it safely, at least not on stage, but it’s something to look into. In the meantime, I need my actors to LOOK like they climb platform ladders on a daily basis. I’ll have them going up and down so much that they’ll be climbing platform ladders in their sleep. Authenticity. Realism. Immersion. All are key, and I will have them at all costs! Except the fire thing.