Good morning! For the last couple of years, I have been on a committee for “The Scene” at Arden Theatre in the old city section of Philadelphia. “The Scene” is an event where professionals get together for an hour of networking, mingling, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before select performances at a reduced ticket price. The party continues with the cast at a local hotspot.
It is really a great time and I’ve decided to share this little extra curricular of mine today because I thought you may have an interest in the current production.
Plus, I’m giving away a FREE pair of tickets!
First let me tell you about the show and why you’ll want to see it…
On the day England enters World War II, Sigmund Freud invites a young C.S. Lewis to his London flat. Here, the father of modern psychology challenges a little known professor on the brink of literary fame. Freud’s Last Session imagines a collision of these two brilliant minds over love, God, and life.
The entire set is filled with artifacts and antiques to replicate Freud’s actual study which is now The Freud Museum in London. You can read more about how the set evolved on the Arden’s blog. Here’s a picture of the actual set as it looks today.
There are over 200 “artifacts” on the stage of Freud’s Last Session at the Arden. Of those, 18 are from the Penn Museum. The largest bulk of the remaining artifacts were donated by members of the Arden’s Sylvan Society. However, that still didn’t complete the set so the props team had to do a little antiquing and DIYing of their own.
Is it just me or did you too always wonder how theater sets evolved? I’ve learned that it can be quite similar to staging the rooms in your own home. These professionals are creative and on a budget so they start by shopping their own stock. Chris Haig, the Prop Master at Arden Theatre, shared a few of the behind the scenes secrets on how the set of Freud’s Last Session evolved.
Two items specifically mentioned in the script and picked up by the characters needed to be built from scratch as finding them online or elsewhere proved impossible or too costly according to Chris. They are the Eros statue and the mummy bandages with markings from the Book of the Dead.
The replica Eros statue was modeled out of clay and painted to look like terra cotta. The leg and hands were broke off just as Freud’s statue had been.
To create the mummy bandage, Chris’s team cut a muslin strip into a 4” width, aged them with a wash of brown paint and distressed them with darker brown tones along the frayed edges. It was also necessary to give them “embalming fluid stains” with watered down yellow paint as this is directly referred to in the script. Chris then copied the hieroglyphs and figures seen on the original using a fine point archival ink pen. After drying, the bandage was wrapped around a stained wooden dowel and placed in the center of a vintage mason jar. Did somebody say mason jar?
As for the antique furniture, there is a unique corner chair next to Freud’s desk that the team was absolutely dedicated to getting just right. Chris scoured the internet, every prop rental house in the area and reached out to fellow prop masters nationwide with no luck. He came across a close match while antiquing in Lancaster however the chair exceeded the budget. They wouldn’t settle for just any chair. Finally, Chris found the correct chair right in Philadelphia from a local dealer’s personal collection!
It took 2-3 months to put the set for Freud’s Last Session together. It sounds like Chris has an awesome job…antiquing, DIYing, staging! I can’t wait to personally view the set and performance next Friday.
I hope you’ll join us for “The Scene” where we’ll view Freud’s Last Session on Friday evening, November 16th.
- Leave a comment letting me know that you’d like to win a free pair of tickets to “The Scene” and the performance of Freud’s Last Session ($60 value).
- There will be an extra entry for you if you post a link to this giveaway on facebook or twitter.
- You have until Sunday, November 11th at midnight EST to enter.
- The winner will be announced on Monday, November 12th and your pair of tickets will be held at the Arden’s box office for Friday’s performance.
Good luck! Who will you take if you win?
P.S. Sorry that this giveaway only pertains to my local friends. I will make it up to you. Promise.
(All images borrowed from Arden Theatre.)
3 thoughts on “freud and antiques at the arden theatre”
How cool! I always wondered how this stuff was constructed. Seems like props people and antiques enthusiasts have more in common than I thought!
Boy that couch looks comfy enolugh to nap in or discuss how to solve the world’s problems -whichever comes first. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed learning all about the sets and props. I enjoy C.S. Lewis’ books. This looks like it would be an interesting play. Take care. Karen