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Creative Staging: Top 10 Inexpensive Finds for Dramatic Results

9. Drainage pipe

If you walk through the garden section of your HI store you will find corrugated drainpipe. It comes in black and has holes punched in it at regular intervals. It looks very ‘techno’ and comes in short lengths, long coils, and has joining pieces similar to PVC. While it has no structural properties, it can be used to create a very mechanical or deconstructed look to a room or set. If you place tubular fluorescent fixtures inside of it, you can get some really neat lighting effects, especially if you have haze or fog in the air.

10. Plastic water pipe

In the plumbing section, you will find plastic water pipe in clear and translucent white. Since it is flexible, you can bend it into shapes and fasten it down to a frame or surface (I attached it to a piece of scenic netting and suspended it so that the shape looked like it was floating in space). If you throw black light onto it, you get a fairly decent approximation of neon. Try adding some neon dye (available at hobby and craft shops) to water, fill your neon creation with the dyed water (don’t forget to close the ends), and THEN throw black light on it. Now you have colored neon. The effect is best in dim light, but it looks fantastic. And when you are done you can empty it, coil it up, and store it away for future use.

As you can see, there are a variety of inexpensive yet very effective materials and techniques that can be used to alter a stage or space quickly. All it takes is imagination and elbow grease. I make a regular habit of walking through my local HI stores and just looking at different materials. Try to think about different ways to use those materials. Take notes. You never know what you can do with something until you try, and then your experiment spawns a whole new set of ideas for using the same material. The possibilities are endless.  

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Russell Reid spent the early part of his career working in professional and university level theatre. Now as a consultant at Acoustic Dimensions, he applies theatrical concepts to the design of worship centers