You walk into a darkened theatre, take your seat, and notice the set. What you see creates the tone for the story you’re about to see. It may be complex, or it may be so simple that you take it in in an instant, but is that all there is to it? (Not usually!) The set can seem familiar, like your own living room, or perhaps it’s a space unlike anything you’ve seen before. Set design is crucial to telling a story on stage. Jenn Stewart, the Production Designer for Sam Shepard‘s Fool For Love, which opens next week, shared insights into her work.
Stewart trained at Studio 58 and has worked on a range of projects, including Wardrobe Coordinator for Studies in Motion (Electric Company Theatre), Set Designer for Hamlet (Honest Fishmongers), Props Designer for Little Brother, Little Sister (Caravan Farm Theatre), and The Whipping Man (Pacific Theatre). She was nominated for Jessie Awards for the Set Design of Of Mice and Men (Hardline Productions), Selfie (Théâtre la Seizième), and The Competition is Fierce (ITSAZOO Productions).
Theatre Wire: Tell us about the design choices you made for Fool For Love and why you made them.
Jenn Stewart: Jamie (King) and I felt that we wanted a set that would aid the actors in the practicalities of moving in the space, but since “things are not as they appear” is so integral to the play, we decided that a strict reality was not useful. So, we have “walls,” but they’re neither opaque nor rigid.
TW: How do your design elements add to the story?
JS: Shepard has some very specific stage directions that we wanted to be true to, so that informed us a lot in terms of materials and shaped the way the design elements work together. Hopefully, the set is aiding the audience in suspending their disbelief, without actually drawing their attention.
TW: Would this show work if the playwright’s stage directions were done on a bare stage without any of your design elements? Would it be dramatically different?
JS: A lot of the set is focused on supporting other design elements, like lighting and sound. I think the loss of those unified elements would make for a very different interpretation of the show.
Get ready to take your seat and take in Stewart’s set when you see Fool For Love, running February 13-24 at the Shop Theatre, located at 3030 East Broadway. Buy tickets now, or purchase tickets to this show and two more and your tickets are automatically discounted to Subscription rates! Check out all the shows that are part of the Subscription here.