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F E A T U R E:
Spotlight on Storyboarding

To highlight the importance of a storyboard in the development of a play this feature introduces you to set designer Dany Lyne and her storyboard for the 2006 NAC English Theatre production of The Wrong Son (a collaboration with the Arraymusic Ensemble of Toronto). The Wrong Son was written by Allen Cole and directed by Peter Hinton.

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a planning tool most frequently used in filmmaking and animation. It is basically a series of visual images that illustrate the story’s main events (the plot) in the sequence in which they happen. In The Wrong Son, the storyboard illustrates a play, and shows how the stage will look from scene to scene in terms of use of the set elements,  lighting and costume.

What is a storyboard used for?

A storyboard allows the set designer, director and lighting designer to "see" their vision of the play, so that they can trouble-shoot problems, and communicate with each other in a very concrete way.  It allows discussion to happen early in the process, before costly decisions are made. Once everyone on the creative team is assured that the play’s story is being supported visually, the set-building, lighting hang, set-painting, projections, etc. can all be created for the actual stage.

How is it created?

Often a storyboard is a series of drawings – a bit like a cartoon strip – but in this case, designer, Dany Lyne, has photographed her maquette (model of the set) for each of the play's fourteen scenes, using lighting effects and moveable figures to represent the characters.

About the storyboard for The Wrong Son

Early in the design discussions for  The Wrong Son, Set Designer Dany Lyne and Director Peter Hinton decided that a storyboard would be the best tool for continuing their conversations about the play.

Dany Lyne speaking about her user of the storyboard as a tool of communication:

"The model, or maquette, is the medium in which I work. The storyboard is the communication tool that gives everyone access to my vision. It helps me to share my design ideas with all of the people involved in the creation of a play that are not privy to my studio-based design ideas and discussions which take place with the director. I produce the storyboard at the end of my design process. Through it, I feel that my vision is more clearly understood since I wish to create a poetic environment that lives in time. In a sense I create a visual poem in response to the "music" and text in this case by Allen Cole. I get the design ideas as I work in the model. I develop the shapes and the ideas and try them out in three dimensions in the model. I refine them and when I like what I see as a whole I draft it out to be appraised for costing.

My designs focus on transformation so the model that I create for the storyboard is useful only to a certain point. For example, in the model the basic set is visible but all of the transmutations of the space are not unless I am there to put in the rest of those elements, like the stove, then the table, and the red curtain which gets replaced by a white curtain, etc. But this is where the storyboard comes in. Through it I communicate with stage management, music directors, choreographers and publicity. The storyboard is a very useful road map for all these various artists and technicians involved in the creation of the piece."

Take a look at the storyboard.

***SPOILER ALERT!***
Images from the storyboard may give away portions of The Wrong Son.

About Dany Lyne

  • Dany is the winner of the Siminovitch Prize for 2006, Canada's largest annual theatre award.
  • Meet Dany Lyne and read her biography.
  • Interview with Dany Lyne on OperaWorld.com
  • For more information on The Wrong Son visit www.nac-cna.ca. Included features:
    Peter Hinton on The Wrong Son, Allen Cole, playwright on The Wrong Son, Sheet Music for "It's Freezing Out Here", Playwright's notes for The Wrong Son, The History of The Wrong Son.

    Read the NAC English Theatre study guide for The Wrong Son.

    Meet Peter Hinton.