Hosted in a semi-built space within The Factory, a new cultural venue in Manchester, we were part of the building team who brought Arcadia from paper to life. Arcadia was a great sound and light art installation that was designed to bring a focus upon the relationship between the urban and the rural.
We were commissioned by Manchester International Festival to create some of the structural staging elements for Deborah Warner’s Arcadia. As most of the staging consisted of real plants, we were contracted to create the structure of the stage, a plinth for the tree, the exposed earth edge surrounding the bottom part of the stage as well as some scenic rock-work. It was incredibly important that the work we created appeared to be as realistic as possible as the aim of the piece was to highlight the contrast between nature and the industrial. In order to do this, our scenic team created the sculpted boulder and the edge of soil that surrounded the side of the stage. Constructed out of blocks of polystyrene using a hot wire, the scenic team then finished the exposed earth edge and boulders by painting the sculpted polystyrene blocks.
As well as using our scenic team, the stage itself came through our woodshop here at Stage One. The main base of the rostra consisted of four 2440m by 1220mm stock staging units that had ply tops attached to them. The stage was raised on cranked scaffolding pipe legs which then allowed us to manipulate the height of the platform. One challenge we faced was that we were working in a semi-built venue which had very limited details on the proportions of the space before the date of installation. This informed our decision to add adjustable legs to the plinth support the tree.
The unfinished space also presented several challenges, one of which being that we were unsure whether the cement on the main floor had set. Fortunately, enough, the cement was set and we then managed to get the 300 kilos worth of staging in via the use of a crane. Overall, we managed to install the stage in just one day.