Easter City

Edmond Vincent from Vertical Church in West Haven, CT brings us this mega Easter set design.

Here’s the info from Edmond, the staff artist/fabricator/set designer/builder.

This is our Easter Production Set “Miracles”. We tried to put a different twist on telling the story of Easter. The idea was to set the drama with a group of tourists in modern day Israel (Each with there own unique personality). They visit different locations where Jesus’ most notable miracles took place. Thru various parts of the tour … history would literally come to life in front of them. Each character had there own “vision” which impacted them personally.
We used “Tuning water into wine, Feeding of the five thousand, The paraplegic dropped thru the roof, Raising Lazarus from the dead, Walking on water, Calming of the storm, and The last supper”.

Lazarus’ tomb was carved out of foam and made to be easily taken apart. It was used in the first half of the drama, but was removed for the second to reveal the boat hidden behind. The boat is entirely made of wood- nineteen feet long and nine feet wide It had to be made strong enough and big enough to handle the weight fourteen people. It was one giant glorified rocking horse, controlled by a long handle that came out the back, and operated by two men giving the rocking and pivoting motion. During the actually production we had dry ice cover the stage so the rockers of the boat were concealed. We projected the ocean environment behind and around the boat.

For the “Upper Room” scene, I had in previous years built a two-story structure with an open front (using scaffolding). Actors would walk up stairs from the back and act out the last supper scene on the second level. But, this time we decided to film “The last supper” sequence, then project it on to the front of the building- giving the effect of the brick became transparent and you were able to see in side. Further pushing the envelope we came up with the idea of having a window that a live actor would start off looking out… he would close the window then, seamlessly transition over to video of him in the upper room with the rest of the disciples.

We used scaffolding for the majority of the under structures cladded with carved sheets of foam then painted with latex.

DSC_0427 IMG_0439 IMG_0441 Miracles-2015-Opening-Night-9 Miracles-2015-Opening-Night-16 Miracles-2015-Opening-Night-24 Miracles-2015-Opening-Night-29 Miracles-2015-Opening-Night-69 Pan-stage-shot

25 responses to Easter City

  1. impressive!

  2. This stage design is incredible!!

    I was just wondering, where would one go about getting the foam used in much of this set? Other than ordering from a manufacturer directly, I haven’t found anywhere to buy it. Any help?

    • I use a company near us named “Madison Polymeric Engineering” they deal in custom foam packaging. They get large blocks of foam and then cut them down to the costumers specifications. If you do find someplace to buy… density is something else to consider. There’s “eps-1” and “eps-2” (Expanded Polystyrene). Number 2 being more dense and rigid, but not as easy to hot knife and heat gun.

  3. Hi there, Do you guys know the color that were used for the paint? Can you share that info? I’m trying to paint something using the same colors it will be awesome if have the numbers. Thanks in advance

    • We use Behr paint from Lowes. The colors are… Earl grey and Wicker Basket as the base. Then I use a grey and black for shadows. I hope this will help. Feel free to ask an questions.

      • Hi Ed thank you for answering! How do you hold the foam walls? Do you have also any pics from inside the tomb? How do you make the tomb hold?

        • Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures of use. But, I can tell you… I used scaffolding for the skeletal structure (stacked two high in taller structures) , with pieces of 2×4’s fastened to the frames using metal straps. With the 2×4’s in place you’ll have something to screw the foam onto. The scaffolding is a mixture of owned and rented pieces. They’re 5′ wide x 6.5′ tall x 7′ long- walk thru pieces. A platform was built on the frame with rented scaffolding stairs (with rails) for the actors to safely walk up.

          The tomb… was made out of several pieces of 2′-3′ thick foam, that interlocked. The central doorway was thick enough to be used as a (Keystone) to stabilize the other pieces. So… It was sturdy enough to stand on it’s own. But, there was a couple places that a wooden frame was used to help steady it. We had a crew of guys that would dismantle it, for the second half of the show.

          • Perefect! Did you guys use any type of foam cover for the tomb?

          • For this production the tomb was used for Lazarus. The large rocks in front of tomb were stacked in the entrance. But we have done other productions were it was retooled for Jesus’ tomb. That’s where I had built a large rounded 6′ x 1.5′ stone positioned in front of the entrance. It wasn’t solid thou… I made a hollow cross hatching structure on the inside, that was sandwiched with foam. It then was carved and painted. The stone was also counter weighted on the inside, so when released it appeared to roll on it’s own.

      • Kimberlee Sherman January 1, 2018 at 5:34 pm

        What an amazing job!!

  4. Hi Ed,

    Do you save your sets? Do you ever rent them out to other churches/organizations?

    • We do store the recurring sets (Easter, Christmas) in sheds on site. No other churches / organizations have used our sets. We tried in the past… but, for the church to transport all the pieces, and then reassemble again at there location is a huge amount of work. That and the fact- we’re probably using it ourselves… but we have lent out VBS props and set pieces in the past.

      • Any chance you still have that boat?

        • Yes… I just got thru rebuilding it for this years Easter production.

          • This is Josh Coles, by the way. I don’t know if you remember me, but I used to be the art teacher at Living Word Academy. My church is Black Rock in Fairfield. I am on the hunt for a boat for our VBS set this June. Is there any chance we might be able to borrow it? Thanks.

          • Hey Josh,
            Of course I remember you. I would love to help… we can exchange phone numbers and talk more, if you e-mail me at ed@verticalct.com.

            Looking forward to hear from you.

  5. Just to clarify thou… I won’t be able to let you borrow the boat. But, we could talk about other possible alternatives. Because, I’m also doing the “Shipwrecked” themed VBS this summer. And… I’m not using the boat from the Easter production.

    • Jacob Chandler March 22, 2018 at 7:41 am

      Who’ll it be a big boat kinda like what they used for joana at sight and sound theater for this VBS?

    • Jacob Chandler March 22, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Do you have any pictures from this years production? And what spray on foam do you use?

      • We haven’t taken any pictures yet, from this year. I’m not quite sure what you meant by… “spray on foam”? I use sheets of foam that I carve and then use expanding foam sealant named “Great Stuff” to glue the sections of foam together, and erase an seams. As far as, what I’m doing for VBS… I usually write our own skits for the drama. When I have time to decide what the skits are going to be… I’ll know what the stage is going to look like. but… I’ll probably big a big boat with a gaping hole beached on a tropical island.

  6. Jacob Chandler March 22, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Sorry will

  7. what set design app do you use to design if you use one?

    • No, I don’t use an app. I play around with designs on paper. When I hit on the look that everyone’s happy with… I build a scale model out of foam core, to scale up with.

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