Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts


This paper deals with the use of fan-inflated polyethylene film as a scenic medium. Undertaken as part of the design of The Little Prince, produced a3 the University Theatre children's theatre production in April 1973» it is devoted to the techniques involved in constructing scenery from polyethylene film. The chemical and physical properties of polyethylene film are described. Construction techniques begin with the floor plan and model. Upon completion of the model, a light weight polyethylene film is fitted to the set model, cut and marked in the same manner as a costume is fitted to an actor. The completed pattern is then transferred to an enlargement grid and the film for the set is marked and cut. The film is temporarily pinned together and inflated and the final fitting is made. The seams ars then heat-3ealed, using either a commercial heat-sealing iron or a salvaged clothing iron. The set is inflated and positioned.

Inflating techniques are discussed, as are the propallor- type and squirrel-cage fans used for the inflation. Diagrams are included illustrating the fan3 and their soundproof housings. Special problems such sl3 rate-of-inflat ion, low-pressure flapping, and venting for both practical and decorative units, are brought up and solutions based upon experience with The Little Prince are presented. Anchoring the set is discussed at length and various techniques for anchoring are presented, along with proposals for preparing the inflated polyethylene set for touring.

The conclusion based upon production experience is that the inflatable polyethylene scenic unit presents an interesting alternative to standard construction techniques, although its use is limited to stylised productions in proscenium theatres, due to the inherent limitations in the medium. Restrictions include surface texture and glos3, limited acceptance of paint, and lack of structural rigidity, as well as sightline, masking, and noise suppression problems.