Stage Craft is an art that has been in existence since the beginning of theater. The use of stage craft techniques and different types of machinery has been in use since the fifth century. In Greek theaters special effects machinery were also used to allow Gods to appear on the roof of certain set pieces and these special effects were used to fly people and things through the air. This technique of flying was achieved by using a device called the mechane. This device is simply a crane that was operated by the use of counterweights. It is said that the mechane was supported by a large stone that projected out into the orchestra. Another ancient form of stage craft is the use of a ekkykahma. This was a rolling device that was most frequently used to roll out the bodies of the actors that had been killed off the stage and it also provided a way to portray an ill character by rolling them in.
Stage Craft has taken on many new faces sine the fifth century. Many things have changed while some have stayed the same. But it really was not until theater hit the United States that stage craft became a very important part of the production. In Greek theater stage craft served a very practical purpose. Such things as the skene were used to provide a backdrop and basically somewhere for the actors to hide and change their mask and other things. Even during the Elizabethan period the set would stay the same throughout the whole production. When theater hit the United States, the idea of a set that followed the story had been played with before but not really successful. When theater really began in the United States the set was looked at as something that should follow the story and be consistent with the plot.
Since one of the first plays in the United States in 1690, the set and ideas about the set have changed drastically. One thing that really changed the direction of stage craft was the ability to use electricity for lights. When the use of stage lighting became popular, stage craft changed because the lights allowed the set to be seen in greater detail.
Below is a guide on designing, building, and breaking a set. Please click below and it will take you to the first step to designing your set.