Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Set Design: First Email

My email to Alli (with the script enclosed):

A couple of notes re: set. There are a number of banquets, and a number of battle scenes. For both, I think it would be fine to create the impression that a lot of the action is taking place just offstage (in fact, I've structured the battle scenes to suggest exactly that). That's not to say that we cannot have a banquet table onstage--but it may be equally effective to have the banquet goodies paraded across, from one exit to another. What we probably will need is a number of vantage points, where soliders can look out at the action of a battle, etc.

Two particular challenges spring to mind. The end of Act One (Units 15-16 in my script) is set on a ship. At one point, somebody gets assassinated and dropped into the water. So we'll need some sort of elevation, and a place where an actor can "fall" and disappear.

Similarly, the end of Act Two (Unit 32) involves a famous and annoying scene where Cleopatra and her servants are "aloft" in her "monument" (probably a tower of some sort) and Antony (dying from a self-inflicted wound) is "raised aloft" by soldiers, so that Cleo can kiss him farewell. I say it's annoying because, well, lifting actors anywhere is troublesome on a good day. And here, we need a platform with some sense of height to it, which is large enough to contain Cleo, her servants (2-4), and Antony, lying prone.

So I guess what this all adds up to is: levels. Having pointed out the ship scene, I think it would be a lovely challenge to go somewhat nautical with the whole set (a lot of the play's language is about seafaring and oceans). But of course, most of the play properly takes place on dry land, either in Rome or Egypt--usually hopping back and forth between the two with dizzying rapidity.

Welcome to the world of Shakespearean setting.

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