Collaboration at the heart of invention: Bringing an iconic car to life

Insight, exploration, experimentation, imagination, and an open and curious mind to see beyond what is known are all key elements of invention. Collaboration and invention play vital roles in the creative process for theater, both in the magic the audience sees on stage, and behind the scenes to bring artists’ concepts to reality.

Such concepts include the iconic car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which audiences know from the revered book and film to fly through the air and sail the seas. In our play, the eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts single-handedly rebuilds a defunct European Grand Prix race car into the iconic automobile that’s integral to this musical adventure. However, it takes an entire collaborative team of technicians and artists and its inventive thinking to bring this unforgettable automobile to life, live on stage.

“Collaborating with the design and production teams is extremely important,” said Nikki Kulas, First Stage Properties Master. “Each of us may have more intimate knowledge on different aspects of our design and theater space, and we all work together to create this ultimate classic car,” Kulas continued.

Director Jeff Frank and Scenic Designer Martin McClendon initially discussed how this large-scale prop should best represent the story already beloved with audiences. Based on that concept, the design and production teams work to discover the car’s functionality: how it will fly, float, fit through doorways, and be maneuvered on stage and backstage – integrating seamlessly within the show. 

Once the needs of the car’s look and function are decided, McClendon built a 3D model of the car on a computerized design program, which generates drawings the production team will use to build this specialized prop, much like an architect generates blueprints for a building design.

“Once the drawings come to the shop, it becomes my job to figure out how it will be built, and what materials are used,” Kulas explains. The car was ultimately constructed from wood, metal, and foam, includes remote-controlled lights, and uses the horsepower of two actors to put the car into motion. The entire process from concept to completion was nearly seven months.

“This 12-foot car and the other props of Caractacus’s inventions could not have been done without a lot of collaboration between the design team, production staff, and overhire props artisans,” said Kulas. “I am so grateful for all of their help – they allowed all of the inventions and cars to be brought to life for this play.”

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG runs October 6-November 6, 2017 at the Marcus Center's Todd Wehr Theater.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.