© Eric Sparling - Amherst Daily News
Jaczar hams it up for a photo on the prow of the stage he’s designed and built for Tantramar Theatre’s Titantics. The Don Miller play, which opens April 12, will be the company’s last production at the Dominion Public Building.
AMHERST – If it’s curtains for Tantramar Theatre’s downtown location, Jaczar wants to see them go out with a bang. Or perhaps a crunch, then a glug, glug, glug.
Jaczar’s set for Titantics fills the ground floor theatre space.
“She was a little scared at first,” said the architectural draftsman and contractor. He was referring to Bette Douglas, matriarch of the company, and her concerns about how much space the design occupied.
The stage is a ship’s deck. But that’s kind of like saying the Titanic was a boat. An entire wall of the theatre has been replaced with the walls of a ship’s superstructure, sporting portholes and elliptical doors. And overhanging part of the audience is a second deck, complete with railing.
Set design isn’t really what Jaczar does, at least not these days.
“I specialize in traditional architecture,” he said. Titantics is the first set he’s done in 12 years. Darren White has been responsible for Tantramar sets recently, but is currently battling cancer.
“What he can do with a flat wall, I have to build,” said the draftsman, paying tribute to White’s airbrushing skills.
If Jaczar was going to take on the project, though, it had to be big. Anything less would have been boring, he said. And it’s not the first time he’s done dramatic designs for the theatre. He designed sets for five years before his decade-plus hiatus. For the show Jack, about Jack the Ripper, he suspended a bridge over the audience.
He has a favorite part: the second deck, with the railing; the illusion “that it just kept going.” Jaczar didn’t know if it would work until it was built. Then he invited the playwright, Don Miller, to see the finished installation.
It’s a success. The deck won’t support an actor. Its entire purpose is decorative. Many hours of labour just for effect. And it’s worth it.