This week, the Filament Blog checks in with two of the Choose Thine Own Adventure Designers: Amy Gilman (set) and Kristen Ahern (costume). See how these brave ladies are tackling the challenges of designing a show with more than twenty possible storylines!
First, Amy Gilman discusses scenic design, unpredictability, and magical forests:
How do you design a show when you don’t know what scenes will actually be performed? Approaching Choose Thine Own Adventure has been different than any other process in which I have been involved. It is an exciting, yet terrifying task. The instant I heard the idea of a Shakespearean Choose Your Own Adventure play I knew I wanted to be involved, though I was more than a little apprehensive that it would be next to impossible to actually pull off. Luckily, Julie Ritchey has taken the show in stride. She has a very ballsy approach, and has just faced the script and challenges head on, bringing the words back to the idea of the gritty, bawdy Shakespearean crowd. How to translate this into scenery has really been paring down to simple items and gestures. Really, in the original productions of Shakespearean plays there weren’t scene changes. If Puck tells you that you’re in a magical forest, you don’t ask wherethe trees are. You take a swig of your ale and wait to see what is happening in the damn magical forest. As a production team we have been trying to take this idea in stride.
In our process we have been looking at really using the space of the Underground Lounge being careful not to lose the feel that this is a show in a bar. A lot of the scenes involve actors having to make quick shifts to new scenes and grabbing what is around them to make that happen. Like any show, it is never really its own being until an audience arrives. Choose Thine Own Adventure is really taking that idea to the next level. No one really knows what will happen every night, but I know its going to be fun.
Next, costume designer Kristen Ahern shares her perspective on creating new works, collaboration, and embracing those iconic Shakespearean looks.
The process for designing Choose Thine Own Adventure has been unlike any piece I have ever worked on. The script continues to grow and change as it goes through rehearsal, an element that is truly exciting and daunting! The designs play and integral part of this production because of the ways the actors use the physical design elements (both set and
costumes) to create each new place and group of characters. Because the costumes are such an integral part of the production, I have asked the actors, director and stage manager to let me know if someone comes up with a brilliant use for a costume piece during rehearsal. I have found that actors have the greatest insight into their characters and can often aid a designer in putting the final touches on a costume that really transform it into a person’s clothes.
Creating the costumes for Choose Thine Own Adventure started by reconciling the differences between the different Shakespeare plays and finding the common elements. In the end I chose to focus on the idea that Shakespeare is iconic and so are his characters. This meant keeping the designs true to the original time period while also trying to show different takes on Shakespeare’s plays.
The final element that had to be considered for the design is Filament’s (and my own) dedication to sustainable theatre. Today I start thrifting for modern clothes that can be converted to look period and old linens that can be re-purposed as costumes.