Living in Ontario Canada, Chris Stolz has designed sets for productions all over North America. His designs work on what Chris calls his 5 pillars of set design: Creativity, Usability, Practicality, Transitions and Magic.
It’s amazing what happens when a magician becomes a set designer. Chris takes the set design concepts we all know and love and turns them into exciting original creations with a creative flair. He is often known as a designer who creates sets that are not only pretty to look at, but fun to watch. His use of shape, scale and design elements are absolutely spot on, leaving audiences to forget about the elements and allowing themselves to be transported to wherever we need them to be.
Chris often works on transitions well before a decision has been made on the color of the walls. He often stretches well beyond rolling and flying and designs sets built to transform from location to location. Audiences hate sitting in the dark and so Chris often builds transitions right into the sets themselves. This results in a set which not only moves well, but is incredible interesting to watch.
At the end of the day, it just has to work. Having started in the trenches with small companies and limited budgets, Chris is incredibly adept are creating simple, practical solutions to theatre challenges which not only stand up against high tech solutions visually, but often surpasses them in delivering a consistent experience from show to show.
It’s not enough to have a set piece on stage if you can’t use it. Chris looks at a set as a collection of opportunities to play, which means providing plenty of options for interacting with it. Take JCS for example, in addition to the structures themselves, the set had moving steps, ladders, crates, a dumpster and many other elements designed to be used by the actors. These efforts to be provide the director with so many staging options has resulted in some incredibly visual and fun theatre to watch.
Chris brings a unique approach by often incorporating his magic and illusion expertise. This lends an interesting take on set design in which various illusion principles can be applied to make things look bigger, smaller, hide actors or technical aspects in the set and incorporate special effects right into the set itself in new and exciting ways.