Theatre and Pantomime

In Eire I became involved with theatre and pantomime. While I painted sets every year I unfortunately don’t have photos of a lot of them. The next time I go to Ireland I will try and locate the remainder.

All the play sets were painted for a traveling group of players. This meant that each set is painted on 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 foot “flats”. As each theatre had different sized stages, it was important that the sets remain modular to enable sections to be left out or added depending on the width and depth of the stage.

The Posthorn Gallop – by Derek Benfield

This set was the Post Horn Gallop by Derek Benfield. I’m not that keen on farces but this play put me in mind of cartoons, Mr McGoo more specifically. So I painted the set like that.

The reviewer of the play in the town of Gorey, Co. Wexford made the ego boosting comment that the price of admission was worth it if only to see the set.

The Field – by John B. Keane

play set design
The bar scene for “The Field” by J B Keane

This play The Field by Ireland’s prolific writer John B. Keane, was made famous in the film with John Hurt, Richard Harris and Sean Bean. The plot can be read by clicking the link supplied.

I also painted the sets for “The Chastitute” and Sive (pronounced S-eye-ve) by John b. Keane. The former is a story of a man that has never “lain with a woman” and is trying desperately to remedy this lacking.

theatre and pantomime The Field
The murder scene from “The Field” by J. B. Keane

This scene was painted on 2 “flats”. They were set on stage with a gap (front-stage/back-stage) in between the two. The murderers were then able to appear from the field to kill William Dee

The extension of the sign post added to the righthand side of the flat helped to give the illusion of the opening to the field.

theatre and pantomime Stained glass
Stained glass window for “The Field”

The stained glass window for the church scene was created using lighting gel and printers film and was made real by placing the pulpit in the auditorium and the window was left on stage with the curtains pulled up to it. A spot was then shone through the window lightening it as if from the outside.

In all the performances there were people that forgot they were at a play and not in church and began to cross themselves at the finish of the cardinal’s sermon.


Nearly every Christmas I used to paint pantomime sets. These two backdrops are all I have of all the pantomimes I painted. These two were for Robinson Crusoe. When staying with my brother in Wales 1999 I also painted pantomime for their Christmas production.

Painting pantomime sets are great fun because there is normally room to go a bit crazy.

Oh no there isn’t.

Oh yes there is!

Theatre and pantomime set painting

…is one of my favourite forms of painting. Solving how the stage is to look. Making sure that movable parts move quickly and silently. In a sense it goes beyond theatre and pantomime painting and into theatre and pantomime design.

To see it all at the end with the actors on a set was really satisfying.

I would love to get back into this field of work.