The Mare’s Tale: the psychological space

For the set I started off with the notion of something quite elaborate, a three-storey edifice that had a tiny chamber on top of it. Then that high, claustrophobic space got reduced to an upper platform with handrails.

Above: here a domestic first floor space has developed, with an armchair and table. Too cosy!

Above: tried again, to no better effect.

Above: then I came up with the more minimal notion of  a skewed chair atop a pillar, though the pillar became more of a rickety tower so that the actor can have more space to work on.

Now I have something that feels more like what the libretto and the music require. A perilous retreat/lookout, an elevation that once ascended offers no alternative way down. It might even be regarded as the inside of the protagonist’s  head. He can sit or stand up there. If when sitting he leans to his left, his head can be silhouetted in the ellipse. The idea is to create a psychologically disturbing space suggesting the duality of  bombed and collapsing buildings, and the cramped irregularity of rural dwellings and their attics.

Above: the ‘tower’ crowned by a chair.

Below: the stairway to the chair needs to look more perilous than it is, and so the steps are made up of three blocks of components, each one looking roughly like this.

To complete the sense of imbalance and unease, they spiral on themselves.

I’ve added skewed handrails and supports. They’ll give security to our actor Eric Roberts, but the crazy angles will underline the illusion of imminent collapse.
There’s an additional performance platform accessed from the first block of steps. It’s the top of a large cube with a skewed square aperture through it. Eric has a playing area on top of the cube, but when his character becomes unhinged and tries to hide, he can cram himself uncomfortably inside it, which will be really feral and disturbing, like a rat in a drain.
Perhaps one day we can put this entire edifice on a small revolve. There would be different working spaces front and back, and I could if necessary elaborate on the structure because it’s made up of modules. But for the present, this pared-down version gives us a dramatic and visually exciting space, and It’ll light wonderfully!
I’ll work some more on it, but this is pretty much what we’re aiming for. Now I’ll make some ‘mood sketches’ to show the character of the structure in different lighting stages, and then I’ll make a scale model.




9 thoughts on “The Mare’s Tale: the psychological space

  1. This is so evocative, precarious and dynamic at the same time. The drawings are works of art in themselves. The designer in you is as strong as ever…. but poor Eric!! However this is right up his street , he is perfect for this sort of work. When is it being staged? Sorry if you have already said, I may have missed it.

    • Aw shucks, thank you Liz.

      The by-invitation-only performance is on Saturday 7th Sept. I think you plan to be in Wales after that, but if you wanted to change dates to be here for The Mare’s Tale, then that would be fine and I’d ensure tickets for you.

  2. I love the sketches, they look quite vorticist and constructivist to me, full of twisting energy and frustration, what a great set

  3. The sketches brilliantly encapsulate your description,
    they definitely do have a real ramshackle attic feel about them.

    I also like the idea that this is how a Wendy or tree house made by a mad carpenter
    could turn out

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