set the scene for
Also, set the stage for. Provide the underlying basis or background for, make likely or inevitable, as in Their fights about money set the scene for a divorce, or The comptroller's assessment of the firm's finances set the stage for a successful bond issue. These expressions allude to arranging a play's actors and properties on a theatrical stage. The first term dates from the late 1700s, the variant from the late 1800s.