Special Event Design

The Other Side of the Tracks

Don Schaffer from Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL reminds me of my childhood in Guatemala. Many poor families lived only inches away from train tracks in homes less skillfully made than this. What a brilliant reminder of the poverty we’re so fortunate to avoid.

Bethany Crawford, staff member and drama head, saw what Willow Creek Community Church had done with their Third World Shelter, and so she asked volunteer carpenter John Tracht to make a similar design happen at Trinity for their annual missions conference.

Major stage differences required adaptation to the original concept, but John was able to make it happen successfully. While the set was mammoth, costs were kept low by securing old fence panels found via Craigslist and gathering cross-members from old wood palettes.

Lighting was left to Don Schaffer, Trinity’s staff video and lighting guy. Due to the height of the structure, many existing house lights could not be used. So a small collection of strategically placed fixtures filled in as needed. Medium pars were used for up-lights on the structure face. Source four fixtures with 50 degree lenses and blue gels filled the background while two more were used with aqua gels and breakup patterns. Finally, some small LED fixtures were placed to create some variation in the back-lit area.

Of note is the layering required in this design. White and gray walls and a rising choir loft required this to reduce the lines already present in the structure of the building. While darkness would have been preferred behind the set, it simply could not be done with the high reflectivity of the area. Hence, color was needed to draw viewer’s eyes to the built structure. Also, placement of the lights brought attention to the grain of the wood and it’s varied surfaces, adding to the sense of realism that was needed to pull off the desired effect of being in a third world location.

Attenders at the services noted that they felt connected with the structure even though it also held abstract properties. Not taking one to a specific/isolated location on the map, the backdrop created a mood and feeling Trinity thought was vital to communicating the need to spread the Gospel throughout the entire world. It further communicated the importance of the event to church members.

A Questionable Stage Who Cars?