Scenic Design Criteria

Reviewers must give each criteria a score between 0-10.

Supports Storytelling
Overall, how well did the scenic design support the storytelling?

Did it clearly establish theme and mood, and when relevant, communicate place and locale, time and period? Did the details of the set help the audience understand both the characters and the play’s subtext? Did the scenic design allow for smooth and efficient scene changes? If it was a unit set, did it allow for clear and pleasing shifts in locale? Did the scenic design help bring the play to exciting, evocative visual life?

How creative, interesting and original was the scenic design?

Was the set visually beautiful? When you first saw the scenic design, did it arouse curiosity, excitement, or a sense of anticipation for the story that was about to unfold? Were unique or unusual materials used to create or dress the playing area? Did the designer employ creative solutions to challenges posed by the script, restrictions in the playing space, or presented by the director’s staging choices? Or was the set very simple, familiar and without exceptional merit?

Level of Difficulty
How difficult was it to execute the scenic design for this show?

Was it a complex set to build and dress? Were materials used that were difficult to work with? Were there multiple levels, staircases, or other unique and challenging architectural elements? Did the scenic design involve challenging special effects like trap doors, projection systems, a two level set that rotated, or a real on stage rain storm? Or was the scenic design based on a simple, single-level set consisting of a few standard flats?

Use of Available Space
How well did the scenic designer use the available playing space?

Were entrances, exits, stairs, levels, windows, furniture, etc., placed in relationships that were advantageous to the actors and the play? How well did the designer use or adapt the playing space to fulfill the needs of the production? For example, if it was a very small playing space and a large cast, how well did the designer overcome that limitation to avoid an overcrowded playing space? Conversely, if it was a very large playing space and a small cast for an intimate show, how well did the designer use the space to keep the story intimate.

Attention to Detail
How well were the details executed in the scenic design?

When a door was opened, could you see backstage or did it appear to be another room? If it was an interior room, were there moldings, light switches, electrical outlets, heating registers, etc? Was the set appropriately and effectively dressed with fine details that suggested character, period or location? Or is the overall execution sloppy so you can see paint from a previous production bleeding through flats, or the seams between flats were visible, or there was an obvious lack of set dressing in a room that the story suggested should look “lived in”?

Scenic Painting
How well was the playing area painted?

Was there a unified style or “look” expressed in the scenic painting? Did the style, colors and textures chosen blend appropriately with the set design, lighting, dressing and costumes to support the story? If faux painting was employed, was is appropriately realistic? For example, once finally lit, did the painted stone wall look sufficiently like stone for the purposes of the show, or the painted flooring look like a wood floor? Did the scenic painting employ texturing, stenciling, or sponging to give the playing area a more realistic feel? Were painted drops used and did the painting demonstrate exceptional skill and execution? Or did the scenic painting simply employ flat monochrome color scheme that did little to make the playing area come to life?

Set Dressing
How well was the playing area dressed?

Did the dressing help to bring the playing space to life? Did each piece of dressing appear to have a clear and appropriate place and purpose in the playing area and in the context of the story? If it was a period piece, was the dressing sufficiently authentic or appropriate to the period? Was there sufficient dressing to be effective without restricting the performances, unnecessarily cluttering the playing space, or making scene changes difficult? If it was a unit set or there was no set at all, were the few dressing choices strong enough to establish mood, time, or place, etc?

How well was the set constructed?

Did it appear to be sturdy, superior workmanship? Did it appear to be safe for the performers? Did functional elements like windows and doors work properly and realistically? Or were doors always ajar because they couldn’t close properly; or did flats wobble when the doors were slammed?