"What you really want to do," Fourshee told the assembled audience, "is build the set."
Memorizing all those lines is a drag, he said.
"It's just like doing homework, isn’t it?" he said.
Ironically — though he was championing all the work which is done before opening night, done in support of those who will bask in the spotlight — Fourshee's was the first workshop to bring the participants onto the stage of the high school's Little Theatre, where June's performance will be held.
He offered a simple explanation for what can be a complex process.
"The idea of the set is to give us a context," he told the after-school audience of about 12, a majority of whom had attended all previous workshops.
Likening a play to a picture, Fourshee said, "We're painting the background."
Hitting on vocabulary terms that some of the students will be tested on during state testing, Fourshee ran through a list of terms any stagehand worth his salt should know. He explained stage directions (always given relative to the actors' position), stage types (the Little Theatre is a proscenium, a fancy term for what is technically a hole in the wall) and curtain types.
He talked at length about flats, the tall but light pieces of canvas which are zig-zagged across the stage to create walls, and how design concessions will have to be made to the Little Theatre's lay-out.
Because the Little Theatre has no wings in which to store stage pieces, "We're going to have to design something that stays on stage the whole time," he said.
It is not the only way in which the set must be designed with the stage in mind, Fourshee explained. Set designers must also work in a way to force the actors to the front of the stage and out of the audience's blind spots.
"Actors have this habit," he said, "they're afraid of the audience and they always want to congregate in the back."
The set designer's goal, Fourshee summed up, is to "always trick the audience — they like it."
Fourshee concluded the session with a brainstorming activity on how sets for two disparate plays — one set in Camelot, the other in the Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother's cottage — would differ.
"What kind of picture would go over each fireplace?" he asked.
Many of the answers described ways to provide clues to the plays’ settings in time, but with Dr. Seuss, Fourshee said, "Time doesn't exist at all, does it?"
No matter, he said, the basic principles which he'd just spent 60 minutes explaining would still apply.
"It's just going to be a bit goofy," he said.
The theatre workshops continue next week, with Jonathan Benjamin hosting two acting workshops Monday, March 13. The sessions, each lasting about an hour, begin at 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in the high school’s Little Theatre.
Auditions for the play are fast approaching. The first auditions will be held March 23 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. More auditions will be held starting at 10:00 a.m. on March 25. All auditions will be held in the Little Theatre.