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  • 1.  Tom Sawyer's Fence Painting Scene

    Posted 09-21-2015 17:25

    Help!  Our school is doing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer this fall, and I am stumped on an easy way to do the fence painting scene.  I have a couple sections of picket fence already on wheels, but I am not sure how to transform it during the several performances.  I want to avoid having the cast members actually wielding paint on stage.  

    Does anyone know of any paint techniques that might be effective using different light colors?  Or maybe any other suggestions for avoiding liquids of any type on stage?  My school was gracious enough to give my stage a fresh coat of paint this summer, and I want it to last as long as possible.


    Christa Danner
    Speech/Drama Teacher
    Blue Valley School District
    Stilwell KS

  • 2.  RE: Tom Sawyer's Fence Painting Scene

    Posted 09-21-2015 21:05

    It might be possible to use a lighting effect to accomplish the reveal-- it would be slightly suggestive and would require a pretty tight focus on Tom, but might work-- say Tom is in a tightly focused area, while the fence is in blue or some other saturated color--- then as the paint is applied a follow spot could slide over revealing the fence freshly painted.

    The other thing that occurs to me is to have the "painting" happen up stage, then have the entire scene rotate DS on a revolve-- that would be pretty fun.

    Rolling down a pre-painted muslin overlay might also be pretty neat-- one picket at a time

    Michael Johnson
    Trinity NC

  • 3.  RE:Tom Sawyer's Fence Painting Scene

    Posted 09-22-2015 00:19
    Another idea might be to roll up some tissue paper and fasten one end to the top of the fence post and have the actor brush over it with a paintbrush, thereby knocking the roll and causing it to unravel, giving the illusion that the brushstroke is causing the "layer of paint" when in reality the paper is just being rolled out.

    Hope this helps!

  • 4.  RE: Tom Sawyer's Fence Painting Scene

    Posted 09-22-2015 00:37

    We did this show a few years ago and the way we handled it was we put makeup on the fence every performance and then when Tom painted the fence he had to brush the makeup off with the paint brush and it looked like a freshly painted fence.

    Alan Kay

  • 5.  RE: Tom Sawyer's Fence Painting Scene

    Posted 09-22-2015 07:43

    We did this a few years back and used a section of picket fence that was partially painted.  The painting was done on stage on the back side of the fence so that the audience could not see any actual progress.  We used paint brushes that had dried white paint on them that gave the illusion of painting with the actors pantomiming.

    Kristie Bach
    Retired Theatre Teacher
    Traverse City MI

  • 6.  RE: Tom Sawyer's Fence Painting Scene

    Posted 09-22-2015 08:34

    We did the show a number of years ago. I can't claim credit for this - the director of the show came up with a great way to deal with this. We had the pickets mounted on 2 nails (one on top and one on the bottom - or a rod through the picket). One side was dirty and the other was 'whitewashed'. The boys painted the pickets with large brushes (there was nothing on the brushes) and they simply rotated the pickets as they went. Some in the audience missed what actually happened and some probably saw it, but what does it doesn't matter even if they do see it. I guess the biggest challenge is mounting the pickets so that they are easy enough to rotate, and yet not loose enough that they turn 'on their own'.

    Mark Zortman
    PA Chapter Director
    York PA

  • 7.  RE: Tom Sawyer's Fence Painting Scene

    Posted 09-22-2015 14:42

    I've done something similar to Mark, and it worked like a charm! Think of them as being hung on two nails, you pull them off, turn them around, and replace them. The trick is getting them to wiggle off easily enough, but also not so loose that they fall off on their own, especially as the unit gets carried/rolled onto the stage.

    To add a nice touch, start with having a couple that ar  "half" whitewashed that Tom is working on as the lights come up, and then start the actual changing once you have a few kids onstage doing it, covering the pulling off and rotating the pieces.

    Josh Feder
    Education Director, New London Barn Playhouse
    New London, NH
    Theater Director, Kingswood Oxford School
    West Hartford, CT