James Hull Miller’s Self Supporting Scenery for Childrens Theatre and Grown Ups Too a Scenic Workbook for the Open Stage by James Hull Miller (Author) By finishing both sides fo each flat, they can then be used without jacks or weights by simply setting them up at an angle. To all non-theatre people, this is called a decorative screen, like the one your auntie Minerva had in the drawing room.
Mr. Miller has two books, virtually identical, available on the subject of folding, freestanding scenery. Neither, unfortunately, is very well written. He intimates that he “discovered” or developed this system himself. His method consistes primarily in using fabric hinges to connect two flats. By finishing both sides fo each flat, they can then be used without jacks or weights by simply setting them up at an angle. To all non-theatre people, this is called a decorative screen, like the one your auntie Minerva had in the drawing room.
This is hardly a new idea. I have been in theatre for over forty-five years, half of that as a technical director, and I learned this technique in college. At that time, we were taught that early European travelling shows used the same method.
Mr. Miller is also an avid user of burlap to cover his frames. Burlap is only slightly more desireable than glass for a flat. It is coarse, loosely woven, therefore porous, fragile and deteriorates very quickly under bright stage lights or natural light.
James Hull Miller’s life-time work in the area of self-supporting scenery is neatly organized and laid out in this book. This reference is especially useful to those producing a play, musical, etc., in a setting that is not the typical theater. Mr. Miller demonstrates that utilizing free-standing set pieces allows greater versitililty than the conventional set. His ideas are innovative, invigorating and inspiring! “Self-Supporting Scenery for Children’s Theater and Grown-up’s Too” contains both the theory behind free-standing sets and the practical “how-to” for building pieces.