Behind the scenes of Pittsburgh Public Theater

In this episode of Yinzer Backstage Pass, we visit Pittsburgh Public Theater’s scene shop to see how they’re building the set for their next production.

Stepping into the theater’s scene shop in Point Breeze is like walking onto the field of an in-progress football game: There’s action happening all around. Carpenters disassemble doors while others affix trim. Artisans craft brick walls out of plaster. Painters fill in the final panels of a massive mural.

There’s never a dull moment here — especially when all this stuff needs to be loaded out of the scene shop and into the theater in just a few days.

Rob McLeod, Pittsburgh Public Theater’s technical director, and Lisa Harshbarger, the organization’s scene shop manager, showed me around the space as they worked on the set for Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” The show takes place in a small Chicago apartment in the 1950s and as we walked through the bustling workshop, they explained some of the challenges of making a set that looks like it’s been lived in for decades.

It all comes down to the details.

They worked with the show’s set designer to find appropriate wallpaper for the era and then aged and weathered it with paint and stain. They even painted rectangular silhouettes on the wall to hint at the artwork that used to hang in the apartment in decades past.  They also replicated the aged bricks that would have been found in apartments of that period. When it came to doors and windows, they went across the street to Construction Junction to pick up actual old doors and windows and repurposed them into the set.

You can see Pittsburgh Public Theater’s upcoming show schedule and buy tickets on their website.

If you want more Yinzer Backstage Pass, check out our visit to Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village where we checked out a 19,000-year-old campsite.