Notes: Design Meeting Thursday, Oct. 21st

The set: A sheet of muslin 12′ x 24′ or even 36′ stretched above the stage as a ceiling onto which we’ll project the opening images. It drops and becomes a kind of scoop that covers some of the floor sloping up to reach up to about 8′ high under the theatre’s inner above. We can front and back project onto this. We talked about using one stand-alone screen somewhere on stage. Maybe it’s moveable.

What if the Mechanicals build the set as the audience is coming in? I love this idea. It gives them something real to do that roots them in the world of manual labor. Provides the immediate contrast between the lower and upper economic classes.

Trunks: Talked about using four trunks – possibly placed over the traps in the floor and pulling piles of costumes out and chairs. Of course, there’s the old vaudeville image of taking a coat rack out of a trunk.

Ropes: John brought up the idea of using hemp ropes to string the muslin scoop. We can teach the mechanicals to tie some really interesting knots. The hemp thing is good because we’ll use it in the costumes of Oberon and Titania (possibly) if we go with the shamanic motif for them.

White floor or black gloss: We love the white because we can project on it! We love the black gloss because it can reflect projected images. Need to make tests of this soon. Is there a way to get white gloss paint to reflect the images?

Children’s Chairs: We discussed using small scale chairs. This can be particularly useful in the final act in the court. If there’s no furniture in the opening and the tiny chairs come out in the forrest scene. There’s some good comic moments to be created. Then in the end, the tiny furniture makes it back to the court and nobody notices this major change.

Splitting the stage down the middle. For the climactic moment in the forest when Puck is leading Lysander and Demetrius around, we may hoist a screen that splits the thrust with half the audience on either side. We can have players on one side of the screen and on the other side the audience sees their shadows, or they can see a live projection of the players on the other side. It’s tough to imagine exactly what we can do but the possibilities are exciting.

Costumes: The period is present day with Hermia moving in the circles of, movie stars, rock musicians and the sons and daughters of senators. Lysander and Demetrius are (both) John Kennedy Jr. I’ve entertained the idea of switching these two players sometime between the forrest and the wedding. Leaning away from this, but who knows. Kara was going to pull some magazine photos before next meeting.

Kabuki: I don’t have a thematic or dramatic justification for using Kabuki in the forrest scenes, but it’s one of those unformed hunches that I can’t shake. I see Titania and Oberon in those broad robes that could be magnificent screens for projecting. And there’s something great about the slow, deliberate movement of Kabuki that can totally change the tone and pace of the play. The chanting and soundscape could also help sell the dream logic.

Puck: Puck is a shape-shifter so all the players (except maybe for Hermia) will play the goblin at various times. We need a costume piece that all the players can trade. John suggested some kind of mask and it can possess the player who puts it on. There has to be a moment when this is made clear to the audience. Probably during the meeting of Puck and the First Fairy. Kara was going to do some research before next week’s meeting.

Oberon: We all continue to like the shamanic motif. White powder and shells, shakers, rain sticks.

Images and Projection: We’ll more than likely use 90 minutes of continuous projection of one kind or another and this week John Iacovelli brought in Gian Scarabino as projection designer. Gian’s researching the technology of projectors this week and doing some tests with different screens. We talked about generating most of the images and video. I like the idea of having projections that look like still images for a long while and then they come alive in one form or another. Still collecting resumes for digital artist collaborators!


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