The setting consisted of a series of platforms forming an
island/surround configuration over multiple levels. The central
platform was highly textured with Masonite "plates" while
the other platforms were treated with a collage of distressed, dyed,
cheesecloth and scrim. The structure of the platforms was in view and
treated as rustic wood.
Projections were intended as a grand element. Overall the
projection area was larger than 30 feet high by 90 feet in width. The
screens were fashioned from three large panels of wide nightgown
fabric. Besides the cost, the sheen of the fabric created an
impressive image intensity gain for the projectors. The screens were
hand-dyed with blacks, greens, and earth tones. Because of the sheen
of the fabric, the dark coloring did not diminish the image intensity.
In fact the greater contrast gave the illusion of greater image
intensity. All slides were hand painted or hand crafted in abstract
textures. The projection technology included a Buel Highlight
projector and two Kodak Ektagraphic projectors.
In The Lark Anouilh sets up, in almost Brechtian fashion, a series
of debate between competing theses. Easy, exact, answers are not
forthcoming in the debate. The result is a work which should cause the
audience to ponder a great number of issues dealing with topics
ranging from the power of religious institutions to the role of the
individual within society.
As a designer, what I attempted to do, was to provide a physical
environment to give voice to these debates over competing interests
and ideas. I tried as well to offer elements that could as well be
taken in competing ways.
The plates on the central platform were a good example. When lit in
one way the plates had a feeling of leather, a material of ancient
armor of the common man. Weather or not Joan had the kind of metal
armor that we might romantically associate with her, I feel that
leather is a more appropriate symbol of her armament.
Within the brown tones of the plate, I added gold bronzing powder.
With different light, the platform glowed in a rich golden light,
clearly a symbol of the royal power. So at once the central platform
could look as a symbol of the common one or as the royal seat of
power. It was really a striking effect.
I also worked to give articulation to the debate through support of
various movement and spatial themes. There was an element in the
design reminiscent of a bear pit. At times Joan, on trial, would be
isolated in the center, with her accusers marshaled all around in
positions of greater physical power. While they had the strategic
"high ground" as it were, at times the relationship could be
reversed, with Joan claiming the MORAL high ground. I created thus an
environment in flux between competing themes.
I also provided multiple paths between the high and low grounds.
Some of the paths were direct and forceful, while others were more
sinuous. These supported different dynamics of movement and character.
As the play progressed, by the time Joan is in prison, her space on
the stage, descends to the wood plank area at the lowest point on the
stage. Not only is this the lowest point on the stage, it is also the
most isolated; the most alone.