Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Desk and Pianoforte

For Pride and Prejudice at Lifeline Theatre, the scenes move very quickly. We had absolutely no time to be moving furniture on and off stage. Because of this fact, we needed one pieces to serve two different purposes, we needed this piece to be a desk in multiple scenes, and a piano forte in two others. I needed to cut out a section of the lid of the desk.
 Once open the hinged piece could serve as the music stand and a rough keyboard would be revealed underneath.
On a side note, one of the most tragic parts of my job is that I regularly purchase beautiful, antique, solid wood furniture, and then I destroy it. That first cut makes my wince every time.

The trickiest part of the process was finding a way to hinge the panel invisibly. I knew even if I used the smallest piano hinges I could find, and chiseled out the joint to inset the hinges, they would still be visible. Luckily I stumbled across an old set of invisible hinges at the hardware store.
The edges of each hinge are made to be inset into the side of the board to leave the gap totally seamless when the hinge is shut. Here you can see images of the hinge in it's open and closed positions.

And here is the sides of the joint, chiseled out and ready to screw in the hinges.

And here is the hinge set into place.

After making sure the hinges worked correctly, I installed a pieces of 1/4" plywood underneath the flipping panel for the keyboard.

I painted the plywood white, added stripes for the white keys, and strips of gaff tape for the black ones. I have to admit, close up, the keyboard looks like it belongs more in "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" than "Pride and Prejudice" but from a distance it looks great, and is almost always facing completely upstage so the audience can only catch brief glances of it.

All I needed from there was a small pieces of string to hold the panel at the correct angle when it was open, so that actresses could easily place their music.

Check it out. Final product open

and almost completely invisible when closed.


  1. Just wanted to say how much I really appreciate your blog. I'm an ex-theatre junkie and now am working on producing a Live-Action Roleplaying game in the midwest... which happens to be a rather prop-intensive pursuit. Your blog has given me tons of ideas and inspiration. Thanks.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoy the blog, thanks for reading.

  2. Jesse
    Is this pianoforte available for rent? Who can I talk to if it is. Thanks

    1. I believe the piano should be available for rent. You can contact Erica at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago. Their website is