Friday, February 26, 2010

A play within a play

From an aesthetic viewpoint, building a theatrical set that depicts one fictional world, and placing that set within a theater that depicts a totally different fictional world presents a couple of challenges. Most importantly, each world must maintain its own unique identity without clashing with the other.

As Chad mentioned below, the play itself is set in a world that is somewhat less than cheery despite an impressive technological sheen. Layers of ethically questionable dictates have piled up and walled-in the society they were designed to liberate. Atmosphere: think Maltese Falcon with robots, most of which are little more than a subsidized source of bipedal horsepower. A smaller portion fill in as metallic playthings that for all of their bells and whistles are no less vacant than the stuffed animals and "Inflatable Ingrids" they replaced. But a handful, like Addison, have been bestowed with or otherwise acquired emotional awareness.

Addison's birthplace--Eva's lab--is nestled somewhere in the shadow of a vertical metropolis. My original concept was a single-level set with two exits, plenty of contraptions to keep the player amused, and far too much ambient light. Not very "film noir".


My second concept divided the set into two vertical levels, the second of which is accessed via a hidden stair. More light sources but less light create a more contemplative atmosphere, and multiple micro-environments--a balcony featuring a city vista, vertical windows overlooking a tiny alley garden, and a dedicated workstation area for Eva--help break up the action and create the potential for multiple distinct moods within a single set.

After having the layout approved, I drew a more detailed version to work out architectural motifs and other specifics.

We have since decided to move away from the rather pointy Victorian style and towards something closer resembling the massive, imposing Art Deco look realized in buildings of the 1920s-40s. Combine this with the muted colors, exaggerated fins, and sleek-blockish look of vacuum cleaners and Fords from the 1950s and you have a bizarre aesthetic.

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