The woman behind the scenes for the Peninsula Players

Raewyn Belson at work designing the set for Peninsula Players’ Christmas pantomime.

Set designer and painter Raewyn Belson gets ready for Jack and the Beanstalk.

Raewyn Belson has been hard at work every day, preparing for the once-a-year performance put on by the Peninsula Players. This year, it’s the classic Jack and the Beanstalk and Belson is the set designer.

She takes direction from co-writers and directors, Allan Haynes and John Watts on their ideas for the set. They meet as a group with the construction foreman to discuss how they are going to go about putting together the performance.

“This is a very complex and complicated play, actually,” Belson said.

With four scene changes, Belson created paintings using acrylics on a three sided board panel, which is called a periaktoi. This is a device used for displaying and rapidly changing scenes on a theatrical stage.

“This year is the first time I think we’ve actually tried this,” said Belson.

There are 10 boards in total adding up to 30 paintings — as they have three sides each. Belson said she was asked by the writers to do something more Disney-like and so the many large paintings she has done on the large boards are very bright and cheery.

“They wanted it somewhat whimsical,” she told the PNR.

Belson said there is 90 feet of painting to be done on the set, which she said is a lot. As a result, she has had to use half a dozen (panels) from another play and retrofit them by building in a village and a castle.

For this play Belson was given tiny little thumbnail sketches that came from ideas from Hayne’s and Watt’s friends in England.

“So then I had to basically expand what I call a thumbnail sketch … of their basic idea to 90 feet,” she said.

Originally from New Zealand, Belson has been involved with theatre both behind the scenes and on stage. An artist since she was just seven years old, she said she now does it daily as she prepares for the big Christmas performance.

“I find that this is a wonderful, practical use for doing artwork rather than just painting pictures and putting them (up) for sale.”

Belson has been with the Peninsula Players for around five years and has been a part of many plays like King Arthur, Importance of Being Earnest, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and others.

With Jack and the Beanstalk having 10 scenes and four scene changes, the quick transitions and different locations make for a challenge in set design.

“It’s probably the most ambitious one so far,” she said.

“Its got a lot of artwork that has to be done.”

One of the challenges she sees is the beanstalk itself, as the team tries to think of ways to incorporate it properly.

With just over a month left to go, the production team has had lots of time to work on the performance and continue their work as they prepare for the show.

The Peninsula Players’ Jack and the Beanstalk will be on stage at The Berwick Royal Oak on Dec. 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.

It will be at the Charlie White Theatre (Mary Winspear Centre) on Dec. 18, 19 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 20, 26 and 27 at 2 p.m.

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