Brooke Horan Williams Book Review of Creative and Successful Set Designs

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Brooke Horan Williams Discusses How to Make Imaginative Stage Sets with Limited Resources


When creating a stage play for theater, one of the first projects after scriptwriting is setting up the stage. Just as the scriptwriting needs be written to have the characters believable, the stage setup needs to have special priority as well. In this book review, Brooke Horan Williams looks at Todd Mufanti’s book entitled Creative and Successful Set Designs: How to Make Imaginative Stage Sets with Limited Resources. In his book, Mufanti shares some experiences of his 40+ years’ experience as a set designer and university professor and shows how to find creative and inexpensive solutions for designing theater stages.

When one thinks of stage setting what comes to mind? For most of us, we think it’s all about creating a stage background so the play allows one’s imagination to unfold as the story is being told. However, Brooke says, Mufanti believes the role of a successful set design is “to create an environment that supports the playwright’s point of view as interpreted by the director and the actors.” The author goes on to say that, for this reason, no two plays will be the same set as every production will be different.

Brooke Horan Williams mentions that Creative and Successful Set Designs is one of her best resources that she recommends to newcomers and is a favorite among drama teachers everywhere. It contains dozens of photos and technical designs and gives step-by-step suggestions for creative stage design for high school theater. The author also discusses the spatial relationship of the stage and auditorium and how to use this to your advantage. One aspect Brooke likes that is especially helpful is small scale blueprints of stages. This helps the reader envision how the stage will look in real life.

Another thing Brooke Horan Williams loves about Creative and Successful Set Designs is the multitude of ideas for creating a set inexpensively. Mufanti talks about ways to convey different ideas to the audience and talks about methods that don’t require extensive building time or expense. In fact, many of the ideas he suggests are ways in which we can use the set props multiple times but in totally different ways. “This saves money for the theater in the long run,” she says. It’s easy to read and easy to follow along with as Mufanti gives plenty of examples and case studies about the ideas he recommends.

One of the bonuses inside the book, she says, is that it comes with resources and contact information for many of the props suggested. She says she can just go directly to the websites referenced without having to search for them on the internet. “This has saved me a ton of time,” she says.

Lastly, Brooke Horan Williams says that the visual creatives within the book, such as his sketches and models, help the reader understand how simplistic set adaptations can work and gives examples for many of his ideas. “Even though the book is only about 130 pages or so,” she says, “it still packs enough information and is a greater starting point for setting theater stages today. It’s one of my best all-time resources that I highly recommend.”