Christmas Stage Design
This past December, Arrowhead Church had a sermon series entitled "Delivered." When I approached designing the stage design for this series, I wanted to match the look and feel of the bumper videos (see and read about those here). These videos gave a nostalgic Christmas feeling and took place at a large farmhouse. I wanted to create the outside of the farmhouse on stage without spending a lot of money.
When I thought of a farmhouse, my mind immediately went to a large split rail fence. We had a large projector screen hanging above our stage, so this fence was the perfect set piece to go beneath it. I built the fence out of 14' long pieces of 1x6 wood. The posts were cut down to 4.5' and the rails were 5' long each. The rails were purposely attached crooked to give the fence a more homey, rustic feel rather than harsh and rigid. To make the posts stand, I cut 2' long pieces with 45 degree angles on the ends and attached them to the base of the posts to create a right triangle with the ground.
When I thought of a winter scene, my mind also went to the bare trees that remain after the leaves have fallen. I went out to the woods on our church property (with the pastor's permission) and cut down a large tree. I then cut off the larger limbs to create "smaller trees" and chose my two favorites. I spray painted them white, so they would be able to take colored lighting well. To make them stand, I placed them in five gallon buckets that I purchased from Home Depot. I poured in some instant cement, mixed in water, and held the trees in place as their base hardened. I then wrapped the bucket in burlap to cover the neon orange bucket and give it a homey feel.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
To make the set feel more complete, I added lampposts to each side of the stage. This added to the traditional Christmas feel that I wanted to accomplish. I also put fake snow on pretty much everything. It was on the fence, the trees, the lampposts, the drums, the piano, and the edge of the stage. When placing the fake snow, I tried to place it where it would naturally fall. To enhance the crookedness of the fence, I put a heavier concentration where the fence sloped downward. I also placed it where the tree limbs branched off. To bring the whole stage together, I had the snow draped off the front edge of the stage as well. I placed LED lights in front of the fence posts and in front of the trees to change their colors based on the worship songs. The light wood and white spray paint on the trees made them both take the color very nicely.
I feel that overall this set accomplished what it was meant to do. It gave people the feeling of a traditional Christmas. Whenever I design a set, I change my mind multiple times throughout the process. The snow and the lampposts were last minute additions that I feel really helped to bring the whole set together. Having the large screen in the middle of the stage was a big challenge to overcome because the set had to live in its borders while still allowing room for the band. While this set was simple, it complimented the bumper videos and helped put the congregation in a fun and welcoming atmosphere.