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Take it from the top…

Amongst the excitement of auditions and callbacks, and callbacks, and so far as I can tell one more round of mini-callbacks… we had our first design meeting for Orestes on Monday night.

We are blessed with two top-of-the-line designers in Megan Reilly (lights) and Adam Hilton (sound) who we can’t rightfully afford but they cut us a deal, and a costume designer to be named later. I fill in as set designer because no designer would be willing to work on my budget. Ay there’s the rub.

My training as a set designer is best described as having had a really good design teacher a dozen years ago, and sitting near others as they talk about set design. I refer to myself as the de facto set designer and that’s a trap. De facto or not I am the set designer. To make any modifiers to that position at all means that I am planning an escape strategy. That is never a recipe for success.

On Monday we talked for a little bit about the script, the designers reactions to it and questions about it, and then moved on to the style of the piece, and mine and Will’s expectations in terms of both of their departments.

I proudly flopped down my Sketch Up rendering of the set design and waited for the clouds to part and light to pour down upon them… Given the lead-in you will not be surprised to learn that no such dawning happened and they currently remain unenlightened.

One of the huge benefits of not working with straight contract designers is that these people aren’t just ridiculously talented, they are our friends and we will get truth from them. Thankfully because they love me they managed to not say anything derogatory… they just had questions. A lot of questions. A lot of very basic questions that would have been self-evident if the design were any good.

Except that it wasn’t.

The set was designed 3 months ago, before we had a script, while we were still talking about what Orestes was going to be. It was designed as part of the larger metaphor we were exploring, and to give Will a place to visualize the play happening while he adapted. It worked great for that.

But that doesn’t make it a great set design. It was timid. It was a set design by a nervous carpenter with a producer’s mind. So I scrapped it. Completely. We have a NEW set design. Though it’s not yet in Sketch Up (and given my work load on this show may never make it there) it solves many of the problems that we were having difficulty solving via the old design, it’s cleaner, it’s bolder, and honestly? I’m a little intimidated by it – which is why I’m pretty sure I’m right this time.

And if I’m not? I have people around me who’ll let me know.
I love this game.