How do you design a set that captures the atmosphere of a play? With Gadfly we decided to use milk crates. Not only are they stackable, sit-able and sturdy enough to stand on, they can also be filled with props – which reduces storage space on the road. Milk crates fit the minimalist style, fast transitions and overall edgy feel of Gadfly but Forgiven/Forgotten is a totally different show. There’s a maturity to Forgiven/Forgotten that necessitates dining room chairs and cello-filled transitions.
We know it needs something different than milk crates but are confined to the fact that at the end of the day it still has to fold up and fit into a mini van. A set must fulfill the physical needs of the show. If the actors need a kitchen sink on stage then the set must include this, but if the actors need to build multiple locations on stage, then the kitchen sink can’t very well stay there through out the play. Our story leaps from soccer fields to prisons, church sanctuaries to dinner parties and, on top of that, we have decided to use projection in the play. This means that some part of the design must incorporate something which functions as a projection screen – a projection screen that also needs to hide characters so that we can only see their silhouettes. I have been absolutely puzzled by this until today. The idea came from attending my niece’s dedication at Windsor Mennonite Fellowship. The pastor, Paul Dueck, was sharing pictures from a Taizé retreat he had attended in Montreal. A picture came up of the inside of an old cathedral. It was decorated with beautiful banners stretched high into the air, above it was a stain glass window. My first thought was, “Hey, those banners kind of look like fire.” Then I saw the stain glass window above it, “Hey, those banners kinda look like the stain glass design from the Forgiven/Forgotten poster”. Then I realized, “Hey, it’s made of fabric – fabric works as a projection screen and backlit fabric makes for silhouettes!” Now the only problem is building something that can support the weight of the banners, tear down to fit into a van, meet fire code theatre regulations, and all fall within our budget. See, problem solved. But seriously, any ideas? -Johnny