Electrically-Controlled Blowfly to Worry Comedian!
Experiences of a
Sydney Stage Designer
BEING a designer of stage and screen settings has its humorous as well as its artistic side, according to Mr. Alan Kenyon, who has designed the settings for the comedy "Room For Two," which will have its premiere at the Minerva Theatre
MR. ALAN KENYON seen with the miniature model for the desert village of El Arish, created for "Forty Thousand Horsemen," the film being directed bu Charles Chauvel for
Famous Feature Films. Ltd
Since he came from England, shortly after the last war, Mr. Kenyon has been designing settings for musical comedies, plays, revues, and films. He always makes his designs in cardboard miniatures, which are exactly to scale, and then these are copied by the carpenters.
"The models are, of course, coloured in the shades to be used in the actual setting," said Mr. Kenyon. "I am trying to bteuk new ground with the settings tor 'Room For Two' by, the use of picture technique."
'There is a vast difference in designing for the theatre and for the screen. The theatre gas a number of focal points, and the scenery has to be constructed so that it can easily be seen by every member of the audience. On the screen, the camera can look after this side of the business," he said.
One of Mr. Kenyon's most recent designs for films was the native village of El Arish for "Forty Thou- sand Horsemen," being produced bv Charles Chauvel. Constructed on
the sandhills of Botany, the village was correct in every detail, and was made from a large cardboard model de signed by Mr Kenyon.
Model of Woronora Dam MAKING a model of the
Woronora Dam, one fiftieth the actual size, was one of the tasks which con- fronted Mr. Kenyon when he w« working on the re- cent Cinesound picture. "Dad Rudd, M.P." "The dam I made was about 125 feet long and the water tank built in the studio held 12,000 gallons." said Mr Kenyon
The mention of water caused Mr. Kenyon to give a rueful smile, and murmur vaguely, "Never will I forget the water problem in 'Lovers and Luggers'."
Some underwater scenes were required, and Mr. Ken- yon built a special tank in the studio for the purpose. Unfortunately the water was not sufficiently pure to allow clear photography. Then he
constructed a special filtering system; but even this would not permit sufficient range for the camera. Finally, after numerous efforts to fill the tank from special water carted in a petrol waggon, the scenes had to be made at the North Sydney Pool.
Making miniature trees, about four feet high, for the timber felling scene in "Tall Timbers," was another of Mr. Kenyon's duties. "To do this
properly it was necessary to make the trees in num- erous pieces and graft limbs on to them. Thou- sands of sponges were cut and teased to make the foliage, and we had to make the trees fall by working them with wires in marionette fashion," he said.
What Mr. Kenyon will never forget is when, dur- ing the making of "Gone to the Dogs," he had to turn taxidermist and furrier overnight to con- struct two gorilla costumes!
"The costumes were made first of all by the furrier, but they fitted so perfectly the actors could hardly move in them, so I got to work I had to unpick all the stitches and then redesign the costumes, allowing for more accommodation. Even then, none could cope with being enclosed in such a 'hot house,' and in the end we had to get a professional wrestler to play the part of both animals. He lost three stone while the scenes were being taken," continued Mr. Kenyon. Lugger on Wheels
MR. KENYON had to show some knowledge of
mechanics in this film when he made the elec
This picture, taken on location with the Cinesound film, "Dad Rudd, M. P." shows Alan Kenyon's model being placed in
position for the cameras.
trically controlled blowfly which shared the comedy
honours in one scene with the comedian, George
One of the designer's temporary setbacks occurred during the production of "Lovers and Luggers," for which he had constructed on the set one full sized lugger. "It was so big we had to put it on rollers and trundle it to and from the set," said Mr. Kenyon."For this purpose I bought
about three dozen castors, and these were attached to the hull of the lugger. One day there was an ominous popping sound, followed by many more, and one after the other the castors collapsed. Lifting jacks were required for the long process of re-hoisting the lugger."
It is no wonder that, after experiencing the difficulties which confront the screen set designer,
Mr. Kenyon finds stage decor a comparative rest.