There are a number of excellent articles over on the website of the American Association of Community Theatre.
This is the second in a series of extracts from those articles and a link so that if you want to read more you can get to the entire article.
The second one is about the role of The Set Designer.
All the scenery, furniture and props the audience sees at a production of a play make up the set design. The set designer's job is to design these physical surroundings in which the action will take place. The overall look of the set also gives the audience information about the director's concept of the production.
The set should:
suggest the style and tone of the whole production
create mood and atmosphere
give clues as to the specific time and place of the action
offer creative possibilities for the movement and grouping of the actors
The set may also need to be designed so the backstage areas used by the actors and stage crew are kept out of sight from the audience. This will depend on the effect the director wants to create with the staging and on the type of stage the production uses.
All the things appearing on the stage other than the scenery are called stage properties, or props. Set props like furniture, draperies and decorations are the types of things that complete the set and they need to be part of the set design.
The set designer will normally read the script many times, both to get a feel for the flavor and spirit of the script and to list its specific requirements for scenery, furnishings and props.
The time of day, location, season, historical period and any set changes called for in the script are noted. The set designer's focus here is on figuring out everything that may be needed based on the dialogue in the script. Stage directions tend to be ignored at this point in the process.
The complete article can be found here.