Set Design -Volunteer work – 2015

Designers: Carolina Falcão Duarte, Pablo Herzog

Main activities: research, concept, assembly, material selection.

How to design an atmosphere that reflects what happens in the mind of a  character?

This volunteer work was part of an effort to aware people about anorexia’s risks. It was a unique opportunity to focus on designing for conveying a complex emotional impact in the audience. The monologue was based on a book called Biafra.

 

The goal of the design was dragging the audience into the mind of an anorexic woman, played by one actress and reinforce 3 important issues depict during the play:

1. Anorexics do not choose to diet and then just can’t stop and that’s all that’s wrong.

2. Anorexia is a mental illness that kills and has to be properly treated.

3. It is about feeling like you are controlling something in your life.

The challenges

Besides the overall challenge of evoking the emotions that the monologue was aiming for, there were some practical issues that we had to observe.

Fit different stage types and sizes, like the pictures on the below show.

To be easy to disassemble and transport and do not generate waste.

To Allow interaction with the actress.

To be extremelly low-budget

Thrust stage

Proscenium stage

Concept and design of the scenic elements​

We have worked in close collaboration with the director, the lighting technician (Marga Ferreira) and the book’s author during the ideation. We were present on several rehearses to ideate and adapt the elements for this play.

A mirror that sets a questions on how we see ourselves 
A mirror with a hole placed were the actress should see her face. This mirror aims to to translate the distorted body image of the main character and the lack of connection with it. Do you feel disconnected with who you assume you are sometimes?
This element was an important focus in the Thrust stage setting.

Oppressive figures:
Long dresses represent oppressive role models and the obsession for control that gets bigger than the character until it almost crushes her. We designed those to make the audience feel her anguish.

Those elements were also important to configure the set design for the Proscenium stage.

Putting everything together

Besides the elements specially designed for the play, others were purchased to compose the whole scenario.

The color white was chosen to maximize the lights effect on the materials. 

IMG-20150504-WA0003-1.jpeg

Credits: Cínthya Verri

The final outcomes

Photo Credits: Cínthya Verri

A brief reflection about this work

This project allowed me to bring several creative visions together. To translate a director’s view, an actress view and an author’s view on the feelings that the main character experience was a challenge. At the same time, it was an amazing experience.


I enjoyed designing a set in which the main goal was causing an emotional impact on the audience and developing metaphors to reach this goal. This work has sensitized me on how to evoke feelings through design. Furthermore, it allowed me to use my creativity in a different way than I am used to. I am very grateful to Cristiano Godinho (the director), Cinthya Verri (the book’s author) for inviting me to join such an interesting project and Pablo (my design partner in this journey) for his support on this work.