Let's Hear It for Lego

You’ll wonder how you managed without it.

When you are planning a production – for screen or stage – it is important to get it obvious to you what will happen on the day. How often do we imagine how it will look with a sofa and a table and a chair, but when we get on the set, it is quickly apparent that there will be no room for all the moves and business you have planned with all that clunky furniture around. This is where Lego comes in.

Built out of Lego, you can construct tables, chairs, sofas, all in the approximate relative sizes, and then fit them in to the model of your set (or just on top of the ground plan) to see how the space works, and how you can fit your planned moves and business into the available furniture arrangements.

Nothing is more annoying than to have worked with the actors on a particular design arrangement, and then had the awful suspicion that there is in fact a better arrangement that would serve the piece you are doing better. This is easily avoided by first getting the model of the set filled with your Lego bits, and then (this is the essential part) putting everything in a different place, trying out all sorts of combinations, seeing what would happen if there was quite a bizarre arrangement – then you can go into your work with the actors super confident that the pattern of movements instigated by the pattern of design elements will match, as you have already tried out all the other combinations.

Lego has the superb extra value of having little men as part of the blocks they provide, and these can also be moved about the set to see how moves work out. For the camera it is especially useful to be able to put combination of actors down, and look at them from different angles, working out the best way to present them to camera.

You can even spot impending problems of crossing the line, or of masking, and certainly refine your grammar for a particular scene by Lego-ing it away.

When working on a feature that had over half the action inside a subway train, I found that constructing all the seats with Lego, and then moving my Lego men from seat to seat – going through all the moves of the film, and then re-setting the men, meant that by the time I came to the shoot, I knew exactly where everyone should sit. I was told, time and again by my cameraman, how lucky I was that this particular shot would work because we could get a well composed shot of these several people from a particular camera position. Of course we could, I had Lego-ed every bit of action so that this would happen. Naturally, I agreed with him how lucky I had been.



Patrick Tucker started directing for the stage in 1968, and for the screen in 1976, and has been doing both ever since. To date he has directed over 250 theatre productions and over 200 dramas for the screen (including one feature) at venues in the UK and all over the world, including America, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, South Africa, South Korea, and three productions at Shakespeare’s Globe London.

His last stage work was Measure, For Measure for the Blackfriars Theatre in Virginia, and on screen a Russian sit-com Olimpiada 80 filmed in Latvia (in Russian). He has lectured and run courses on the various aspects of acting and directing since the mid-1970s (presenting directing workshops for Raindance since 1997, and at Central Film School since it opened in 2009), and his books Secrets of Acting Shakespeare (Routledge 2nd Edition 2017) and Secrets of Screen Acting (3rd Edition Routledge 2014) contain many original insights – as do his workshops. He is currently preparing Secrets of Screen Directing – the Tricks of the Trade for publication in 2019.