1. Set

Under A Cardboard Sea Set

Building a set is all about using simple things to create whole worlds.

If you want to build a set, you can use any sort of spare materials and loose parts. You could use Lego, wooden blocks, or even cardboard boxes.

You can also build a set or ‘den’ out of other things at home, like chairs, sheets, blankets, cushions, etc (you might need to ask permission first though!).

The key questions to ask, to fill your set with life, are: Where are you? Who lives in/uses this space? 

2. Sound and Light

Thunder Run

Thunder Run

Bristol Old Vic has its very own thunder run. A thunder run is a wooden trough which slopes above the stage. Cannonballs are rolled down it during performances to make thunder roar above our audiences’ heads.

You can make your own miniature thunder run at home. To do this, you will need: a cardboard tube from some kitchen or toilet roll, strong tape, scissors and marbles (or a small bouncy ball).

Cut the cardboard tube in half and tape it to a window or a wall. Roll the marbles down it. If you have them, try using several different sizes of marble. Each size will make a slightly different sound. If you have more than one cardboard tube, you can stick them together to make a longer thunder run.

Shakers

Another bit of sound technology we use at Bristol Old Vic, is a rain machine. To create the sound of rain, small objects like pebbles or peas are shaken in a container. The heavier the contents, the louder the rain.

You can make your own rain machine at home. To make one, you will need: an empty plastic bottle with a lid and some rice, lentils or small pasta shapes.

Put the rice, lentils or small pasta shapes into the bottle, pop on the lid and shake! You can decorate the outside too if you like. Can you make a quiet sound or a loud sound? Does it sound different if you close your eyes and listen?

Shadow Drawing

We can also use lights to create shadows. Here are some ideas to explore making shadows.

Using a torch and your bodies, what shadows can you make on a piece of paper or against a wall? Can you draw round the shapes on the paper and colour them in? What other things do they look like? What can they become?

If it’s a nice day go outside and what explore what shadows you can make using the sun. Does your shadow look different at different times of day?

Using the set you created earlier (with blocks and Lego) can you create lighter and darker spaces? If you shine a torch or use a tea light what shapes and shadows can you make?

Gobos

In the theatre we use something called a gobo. It is a stencil or template placed in front of a light source to control the shape of the light.

Gobos are really easy to make at home.  To make one, all you need are: scissors, paper and a torch or light.

Cut out some simple shapes from your paper. An easy way to do this is to fold your paper/card in half, cut a shape along the folded side and then open it up. It is useful if you measure the lens of your torch first, as you want your shapes to be the same size or smaller.

Once you have made your shapes, shine a torch through them. What shapes can you see on the ground? Can you use them in the den to cast shadows on the walls?

If you have coloured tissue paper you could try putting it in between your torch and your gobo to create a coloured shape.

3. Costume

A homemade clown collar

Dressing Up

Explore what its like to be someone else. Costume help transport actors into the minds of their characters, and transport audiences right into the world of the play.

Try dressing up as different characters – use your own clothes, or dressing up clothes if you have them. What would someone from a long time ago wear? What would someone who lived on a desert island wear?

Dress your parents up, then have them guess who they are and where they live! Then swap around.

Make a Clown Collar

You could also try making some bits of costume, like a clown collar (as shown above).

To do this, you will need: paper plates (or card), coloured pens, pom poms (or whatever you have to hand) and glue.

Cut out a hole the size of your neck in the paper plate (or cut out a circle of card with a smaller neck sized circle inside it) to create the collar. Decorate the collar with pom poms, or whatever you have to hand, and then make a cut to open it so it can be worn around the neck. What kind of clown are you? What tricks can you do?

4. Props

Our nursery props table

Props are objects that help tell a story, and give shape to an imaginary world. Often props aren't the actual objects they are meant to be, but are symbolic of them (you are unlikely to see a real horse on stage but you might see a prop or puppet one!).

Think about the objects around you. What strange objects can you find around your house? Where did they come from and what could they be? Were they washed up in a shipwreck, or found in a creepy cottage on the edge of the woods? What stories can they start?

Props challenge: Try to recreate the following using objects and furniture in your house, (don’t forget you can use your bodies too!):

  • A boat
  • A bus
  • A hot air balloon
  • A theatre stage
  • An elephant
  • A dinosaur
  • A beach
  • A window

What other things could you create using your imagination and the things around you at home?

  • A boat
  • A bus
  • A hot air balloon
  • A theatre stage
  • An elephant
  • A dinosaur
  • A beach
  • A window

What other things could you create using your imagination and the things around you at home?

We'd love to see what you make!

Share anything you create on social media and tag us in them @BristolOldVic on Twitter or @BristolOldVic1766 on Instagram.