Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is an homage to the works of Anton Chekhov who mused on human melancholy, the ruthlessness of aging and complicated familial relationships. However, Vanya differs from Chekhov in that it is set in the present and takes the stakes gracefully presented in the works of Chekhov and turns up the heat to achieve piece that is somehow both whacky and transcendent.
As the biggest departure from my personal style, Vanya stands out as a piece formally grounded in realism. The surroundings of the absurd situations in the play have to be grounded so the hilarity can land appropriately. Vanya is set in an ancestral farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There is a specific architecture to this style of home which I tweaked to fill the needs of the theatre. From there, a personal touch of some 1970’s style renovations and a complimentary color scheme of red and green provided the touch of tackiness and anachronism this play called for. To match the script’s themes of longing for the past, the box set was styled like 1950’s and 60’s fishbowl sets in an effort to lend a dated style to the show’s presentation.
Vanya taught me that to be able to design outside my personal aesthetic is essential. In a show outside my comfort zone, I can always find my passion when focusing on the details: the titles on the bookshelf, knick-knacks on the mantelpiece or what kind of flowers grace the counters.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
David Thayer Theatre
Copyright 2016 Alex Casillas