Spectacular School Sets

Image: Les Misérables

Adam Lindberg has designed and built sets for over 150 school productions since he graduated from the NIDA design course in 1996. He explains why he enjoys working in the education sector.

My first gigs were with regional theatre companies and designing for conferences and dinners.

Whilst I got a creative kick out of corporate events, the pressure was immense.  I remember one huge corporate event staged over two days at the then Telstra Dome in Melbourne.  The venue notified us that all the elements had to be rated for exterior wind loading, even though the roof was to be closed. Suddenly my construction cost blew out by $150,000.

Image: Daughters of Venice

I took a punt, showed my portfolio to a few private schools and got a job staging a season of Two Weeks with the Queen at Shore School in Sydney. 

The studio theatre where we mounted the show was a brilliant space. Shore’s Creative Arts department was vibrant and motivated to stage professional level productions. I realised there was a market in education for a good designer who could also construct sets. With Christopher Reynolds and his successor David MacSwan we did some fantastic productions and made some brave decisions.

Image: West Side Story

You can give concepts a try within schools that would not be attempted in the professional world. One of my favourite designs was our 2002 production of West Side Story, featuring a dynamic six metre metal see-saw. The whole production was staged around the set piece as it rotated 360 degrees and tilted up and down, at times with actors riding it as it moved. The production was also fortunate enough to feature a sweeping and almost filmic lighting design by renowned artist John Rayment. 

Maintaining creative relationships within education has been the foundation that has kept my company, Adam Lindberg Design, going for almost 30 years.

I have been fortunate to create productions with passionate and committed drama educators who could easily be professional directors working in the industry, but they have decided to work in schools.

In 2007 I committed to drama in education and accepted the role as Production Manager at Cranbrook School in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

Image: West Side Story

I work full time as a Production Manager on their Creative Arts program, managing venues, logistics and a student production crew, as well as designing and realising lighting, sets and other technical aspects of the productions. In my holidays I design and construct sets for other clients. I am always looking for new challenges within the education sector.

A current challenge is the increase in cost for materials. The base materials such as plywood and pine cost 200% more than last year, and up to 300% if supply shortages force you to use a higher grade than you need.

Image: Into The Woods

In response to increasing costs, and to inspire teachers to continue to provide their students with amazing sets to perform on, I am promoting a staging product called Multi Set. The package is a modular product that can be assembled in multiple configurations and is suitable for a range of projects.  I conceived and constructed Multi Set in response to my most frequently received request over the last 20 years … “Can I have levels?”

For details go to www.adamlindbergdesign.com.au