THEATRICAL APPROACH PROJECT
· You will continue to work on the play you have chosen this semester (Antigone, A Doll’s House, The Crucible, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Cherry Orchard, A Streetcar Named Desire, Long Days Journey into Night, Medea or Waiting for Godot).
· You will take on one role: director, producer, scenic designer, lighting designer, sound designer or costume designer.
· If you are: the director- explain if you are interpretative or creative, you will also decide the cast size, working in a set theatre space, the budget the producer gave you, decide how much rehearsal time is needed, discuss your personal vision of the show, working with the designers/ producer and what you want the audiences take away to be, etc.
· If you are the producer- explain the budget, choosing a director, why this play, the theatre space, working with the designers, director, marketing the play for an audience etc.
· If you are a designer-you would speak to the director to determine what they would like and come up with specific ideas to demonstrate what type of set, lighting, sound (including music) and costumes (and/or make-up designer) etc. Also, you must determine what budget the producer gave you and how you will work within these parameters.
· After determining what is needed for a successful show you will present your work in ONE of the following ways:
· Write a paper- no less than 3-5 pages long (750-1250 words), 12-point font (Times, Arial or Calibri ONLY)-look at Paper rubric for detailed guidance.
· For all approaches, make certain you have a clear beginning, middle and end to how you will discuss the work, for example- what is a producer, what is a director, what is a set designer etc., then give your responsibilities as this person, who you work with, what are limitations, then discuss the directors vision and how you supported this vision.
· This is worth 30 points
· Break a leg!
Theatrical Approach Paper: No Exit
NO EXIT 1
Theatrical Approach Paper
June 10, 2020
Hello, I’m the set designer of the play “No Exit”. I was overwhelmed with excitement when my director informed me of this play choice. “No Exit” is one of my favorite plays because of its suspense and the themes that run through it. To summarize, “No Exit” is a one-act play about three individuals who get sent to hell. Hell is not the fiery place that many people assume, hell is other people. The three characters are escorted to a room by a valet and they are to torture each other, not with weapons, but their problems and dialogue without any escape for eternity. The playwright, Jean-Paul Sartre, portrayed the existential belief that humans can be as free as they want as long as they take responsibility for their actions and face the consequences through this play because the consequences for the characters are one another. My production team and I are thrilled to collaborate on such an interesting play and to bring our director’s vision to life!
As the set designer, I was permitted to choose the proper stage for the play. I have decided this play would benefit from being performed in a black box theatre. This stage is the most intimate form and I want the audience to feel immersed in the play. The play emphasizes that the torture of other people without any escape is the harshest punishment, I want the audience to feel they have no escape. With the audience sitting at the same level as the actors and looking directly at them, I’m hoping to accomplish this. Especially during the moments of the play where the characters have “visions” and see their loved ones who are alive back on earth and speak into the audience. This type of stage was also chosen because it was the least expensive option between a proscenium, thrust, and an arena stage.
Although “No Exit” is set in hell, the hell of this play is different and is portrayed in real-world like settings. My director is a big fan of the American filmmaker Wes Anderson and has directed our production crew to take inspiration from Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel. This film is set in a fancy hotel, similar to how I will be setting “No Exit” in a hotel room in the year 2020. The colors are soft on the eye but make up an elaborate and realistic set. Since the black box theatre is an open floor, I will buy curtains for a backdrop. Thankfully, I saved a lot of money by choosing a black box theatre and can splurge on items for the set.
My biggest challenge was finding curtains for the wall backdrop. I had to think about how my choice of color for a wall would set the tone for the rest of the furniture items. After discussing with the costume designer which colors would best complement the costumes of the actors, I chose a dark beige curtain that is almost brown. With a neutral curtain, the colors of the set and costumes will pop. My next challenge was finding a rug. I wanted an elegant looking rug that was vibrant in color with elaborate designs that would be suitable for a top tier hotel. I tapped into my roots and was able to get a deal on a handmade red Persian rug with orchid colored designs. This rug will be on the floor by the three couches and will cover the three steps leading up to the elevator door at the back center of the set which is where the actors will enter and the valet will exit from. I strive for the illusion of fancy and comfortable because when the first character, Joseph Garcin is escorted to the room by the valet, Garcin expected to enter into a fiery hell, instead, he is met with what appears to be an inviting environment. This “inviting” environment is an illusion because the real torture is not a location but people. With this inviting setting, I hope to trick the audience into thinking the experience of the characters will be pleasant.
The second character who is escorted into the room with Garcin by the valet is Inez. Inez mentions the absence of mirrors in the room. Later, the third character, Estelle enters. It is revealed that Estelle is high maintenance and obsessed with her looks. Estelle ponders which couch to sit on because she wants a seat that will best complement her dress. Taking these points into consideration, I chose the couch colors to be a light blue armchair, an orchid sofa, and a light orange armchair. The orchid couch is at the center complementing the orchid parts of the rug, with the two armchairs at the side. When Estelle picks the couch that complements her dress the best, it is the armchair that Garcin is sitting on. After working with the costume designer, we decided that a light blue armchair would complement Estelle’s light pink dress. Next, to emphasize the absence of mirrors, I want to place two empty frames on the curtain walls where the mirrors would be.
Another huge part of this play is that the characters are dead and cut off from the outside world. They are stuck together forever. If they were alive, they would have the ability to harm each other, a method of escape, or the ability to reach out to other people. There is a phone that barely works and a realistic plastic knife that cannot harm anyone. These items are used to taunt the characters. I will be placing two brown nightstands with art deco lamps on top of the nightstands at the side of the orchid couch. Although I’m not the lighting designer, these lamps are key to my set. With their yellow tones that will shine through the stained glass shades, they will highlight the iPhone sitting at one nightstand and the other with an open drawer with the knife inside at the other table. Despite my director choosing this play to be set in 2020, I chose a more vintage take on the art deco lamps. I believe they are sophisticated and will fit right in with the rest of the set. These lamps not only add lighting but they frame the characters and tell the audience where to look. The filmmaker I have been instructed to draw inspiration from utilizes lighting in films to frame a scene and tell the audience where to look. I’m aiming to bring this element on the stage. One of the last set pieces I had to work with was the door for the entry. Since my lampshades were stained glass, I wanted the door to complement the glass. I decided to buy brown narrow double doors with clear stained glass windows in the center of them. This was the final and most expensive piece of the set. I believe narrow doors look absurd and can match the situation of how odd the situations of this play are.
With my set, I hope to bring an even more eerie feel to “No Exit”. In the beginning, my director pointed out how the plot of this play is simple but telling. The structure is simple but is packed in with feelings and offers moments of observation. The characters must confront the mistakes that got them to hell, see visions of their living, and are subject to the torture of the presence of each other forever. This is why our director drew inspiration from filmmaker Anderson who writes simple stories that tell a lot through design. I’m hoping my set is visually symmetrical and frames the characters. As I focused on a specific color palette, I had to keep in mind to make the set appeal comfortable to elude the characters and the audience. I’m confident that I along with the other production members have put in the work to bring this fictional version of hell to life. With a set that is so similar to real-life yet so different, my aim is for the audience to feel at odd in this black box theatre space. They will not know what to expect, similar to the characters. My fellow production members and I have been on the same page, it is almost like we are one person. It has been a pleasure and I look forward to seeing how this show will turn out!
THE LITTLE MERMAID
Theatrical Approach Paper: The Little Mermaid
November 23, 2020
The director plays an important role for the production of a play. They must decide the overall theme and direction the production will take. As a creative director, I will try to add my own twist to the classic musical of The Little Mermaid. This specific musical is based off Disney’s 1989 adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s original story. My goal as the director of this show is maintain a budget given to me that will still allow me to express my creativity and preserve the greatness of this story. I want to be able to bring a different experience and interpretation for the audience that shows my vision for the production.
Producer Alan Menken, from the original Broadway release of the production in 2008 has come back to produce the show in hopes to bring a new audience with a new vision for the story. Although the production will not be in Broadway, the budget will still be considerably big at $6 million. The show will be held in the Mark Taper Forum, in Los Angeles. This is a thrust stage so the audience can be able to experience the story from different angles and in a more personal way. Out of the $6 million budget $1 million will be allocated to the rental of the venue for the duration of the show. The rest of the budget will be given to me to split up between every designer and department to successfully create the vision wanted for the story.
For the set designer, I will be setting their budget at $600 thousand. I want them to be able to have as many resources and financial freedom available to create the sets that will set the tone for each scene. The costume designer will be given $400 thousand so they can provide the actors a deeper connection with their character and have costumes that are accurate to the story. The lighting designer will be given $200 thousand, since the lighting in this production will be considerably important to transport the audience from the two different worlds we will see in the story. Finally, I will give the sound designer $150 thousand for their budget to be able to find quality resources for their sounds. The rest of the $3,650,000 budget will go towards cast and crew salaries, advertisement, rehearsal budget, reserves, and any other expenses that may arise during production. The cast will have a total of twelve speaking characters and a few extras that will be needed. All original characters will also remain in our story.
In the original Broadway play of The Little Mermaid, we see a musical love story that includes a mixture of music from the 1989 film and original music. It takes place in both the sea and on land, in an undisclosed location and year. The synopsis of the Broadway production entails Ariel, a young mermaid and the youngest daughter of King Triton longing to experience the land above her. She meets Prince Eric, who only remembers her voice and Ariel bargains her voice to Ursula, to get a chance to have legs and rejoin with Prince Eric. Ariel narrowly loses the love of her life, but love prevails at the end of the story.
For our take on the musical, we will still have the same acts and I will explain them as we go. The story will take place in the 1940s during World War II in England. We want to emulate this era because we want to add a more dramatic tone to the story. Also, we wanted to incorporate a non-fiction event into our storytelling. Prince Eric will be the 1st in line to the British throne as his mother is the Queen of England. As for Ariel, she will remain the youngest of King Triton’s daughter but in our story, they will be experiencing the war and King Triton will be married to Ursula, except that he does not know this. Ursula has disguised herself as a mermaid named Shelly to marry King Triton in order to have an upper hand on him and have an easier way to cease the trident from him. No one but Ursula and her eel henchmen Floatsam and Jetsam know this. This will further complicate things for Ariel and Eric to be together. Another non-fiction aspect of the story that will be incorporated is how Ariel will live in the Atlantic Ocean where King Triton reigns and deals with the ongoing world war. Finally, Ariel and her family will be people of color, specifically of Latin descent, which will play into her communication with Prince Eric as well.
When Prince Eric and Ariel first meet, it will be during an attack on his ship by an Axis battleship. Ariel is the one who saves him as his ship is taken down and is left unconscious. It is love at first sight for her as she safely brings him back to the shores of his homeland. Ariel knows English but her main tongue is Spanish, so she combines these two languages to sing a Spanglish version of, “Part of Your World” (Reprise). When Prince Eric hears this rendition to him, still dazed from the attack he also falls for Ariel, but by her voice. King Triton, aware of the war and its dangers, prohibits Ariel to ever going back to the surface upon hearing her dangerous venture. In the scene when Ariel and Ursula make the deal for the exchange of her voice for legs, Ursula will also sing a Spanglish version of “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Just like the original, Ursula gives Ariel three days, or she will keep her voice in a shell forever.
During Act II, a voiceless Ariel reunites with Prince Eric near Buckingham Palace during an appearance with the Prime Minister. He notices Ariel in distress, so he invites her into the palace to help her out. The next few days consist of Ariel and Prince Eric spending time together despite her not being able to speak to him. During this time in the play we see performances of “One Step Closer,” “Kiss the Girl,” etc. from the cast. When the third day arrives Ursula summons on land to claim Ariel’s time is up. This happens right before Prince Eric and Ariel are about to have their deal breaking kiss. As Floatsam and Jetsam attempt to seize Ariel, King Triton arrives to confront Ursula. King Triton tries to use his trident to no avail, and Ursula reveals her identity as Shelly, confessing she took the real trident when she was under disguise. As Ursula is about to take over, Prince Eric arrives with a fleet of his army to defeat Ursula and managing to take back the trident and shell with Ariel’s voice. Prince Eric asks for King Triton’s blessing for Ariel’s hand in marriage. A grateful King Triton approves and simultaneously offers his allegiance to the British throne. Ariel and Prince Eric marry and unite two kingdoms.
Like mentioned before, a thrust stage was chosen for the performance in order to have a deeper analyzation of the set and an intimate connection with the characters. For example, when Ariel is in her grotto, we want to emulate the personal meaning it has for her. We want the audience to experience the intimacy of her grotto and this can be accomplished with a thrust stage. The audience will also be able to witness the complexities of a battle like the one we see in the beginning and the one where Ursula is challenged. I believe a thrust stage will accomplish this.
As for rehearsal time and dates, we want them to be as soon as the cast is chosen. The premiere of the show will be in 2 months, so we will be rehearsing eight hours a day, six days a week for a total of six weeks. Most of these rehearsals will be for blocking, script review, and scene breakdowns. The last two weeks will be dress rehearsals, that will have the cast in their costumes. We want to have the best show possible for the audience to experience the world undersea and on land.
To be able to sell as much as tickets as possible, we want to reach a new audience with a mixture of old fans who would like to see our take on this story. We want to accomplish this by casting people of color in our main roles and see a broader representation for many more of our audiences. We recognize the importance of representation and hope that with casting people of color a new audience comes and see our show. Also, with the addition of non-fiction events we can attract an audience who likes spins on historical circumstances. Overall, we hope our show creates the magical effect the original Broadway show did while bringing in a new audience.