Prop Artist & Videographer Sumi Wu works tirelessly behind the scenes to bring Oregon Ballet Theatre’s set pieces to life. For Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sumi is working to rebuild and paint the original scrim from the world premiere in 2006.
PART 1: PREPPING THE SCRIM
You’re watching Sumi Wu re-create a scrim for A Midsummer Night’s Dream that will be backlit to show the silhouette of an old-growth forest. (Scrim is a specialty theatrical fabric that can be transparent or opaque, depending on whether it is lit from the back or the front.) In this video Sumi is creating a stencil of the silhouette, copying the forms from the original scrim by spraying black paint, which came through the open weave. First you see her marking a clean outline that is cut away with a craft knife, leaving bridges of paper to hold the stencil together. After rolling up the stencil pieces, we lay out plastic to capture the paint and then lay out and staple down the new scrim, which is 64 feet wide by 20 feet high. We then reposition the stencil and I cut away the bridges. Finally, the stencil edges are fixed in place with rubber cement. Also appearing in this four-day time lapse are Bill Anderson, Brian Keith, and Colby Parsons.
PART 2: PAINTING THE SCRIM
Folding, flexing, stretching and hanging around theaters makes great dancers, but it wears out scenery. Midsummer is a popular production and has been packed and unpacked many times. That requires the full stage forest scrim , 29’ x 64’, to be folded down to 3’x4’, then stuffed in a hamper for years, then hung up by the ties for a few weeks, then back in the hamper for years. The spots where it folds start to wear thin and eventually rip. It happens to us all. That is the story of the original Midsummer Forest Scrim. Hence our need to replace it. We have tried a new more flexible mixture of ink & paint on this new Forest Scrim.