^title courtesy of “Project Runway”… make it work!
Fabrics are an extremely important part of theater. Many times we ignorantly believe that fabric is only used for costumes. But without fabrics, such as commando cloth, muslin, scrim, cyc, velour, etc, the theater would be unrecognizable. Although all of the fabrics serve a very important purpose, I decided to focus my research on one in particular: the scrim.
Scrim is a lightweight fabric made from cotton that is finely woven. The fabric is used to make a thin screen that is often used in the theater for special effects, especially with lighting. Lights from the FOH are used on the scrim to light the entire scrim and everything behind it. Charleshstewart.com gives some examples of how a scrim can be used:
- “A scrim will appear entirely opaque if everything behind it is unlit and the scrim itself is grazed by light from the sides or from above.”
- “A scrim will appear transparent if a scene behind it is lit, but there is no light on the scrim.”
- “A dreamy or foggy look can be achieved by lighting a scene entirely behind a scrim.”
- “If a gobo is aimed at a scrim, the image will appear on the scrim, but also any objects behind the scrim will be lit by the pattern as well.”
- “Layering two scrims, or even by placing a mirror behind a scrim and lighting it…often cause audience disorientation.”
There are different kinds of scrims. The most commonly used is the sharkstooth scrim. The sharkstooth is a close-knit weave. This differs from the bobbinette scrim, which has wider openings between the thread. The openings are more like circles, where in the sharkstooth they are small rectangles. A bobbinette scrim offers “greater transparency” then the sharkstooth.
Scrims are most commonly white, so that you can paint them, but can be made in other colors including black, blue, and grey.
In this youtube clip, set designer Viki Smith talks about the use of a scrim, and how she is using the scrim in an upcoming production of “Inana”
Websites I used: