Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again
Director: Lila Becker Scenic Design: Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn Costume Design: Akeem Celestine Lighting Design: Courtney Gaston Sound Design: Eric Marlin
Budget for this Design Area
Comments by the Designer
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again is playwright Alice Birch’s frenzied feminist call-to-action play which subverts the form and function of language to explore and challenge the status quo of women in the 21st Century, who are strong-armed by society to be passive, plaintive and pretty. The play is a short, sharp-tongued series of vignettes which quickly snowball from seemingly everyday scenes of domesticity between romantic couples and families to nonsensical and chaotic scenes which blur the line between performer and character. Birch’s play has no character names, no clear distinction between who is speaking, and quickly ditches linear thru lines for rapid-fire, overlapping strings of dialogue and speech. Each vignette is proceeded by a supertitle which curtly exposes the underlying tension of the scene. The focus of this feminist frenzy is all about exploring and subverting the form and language which suppresses women and asks that they be “well-behaved”.
Developing the scenic design for Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. began with analyzing what was central to the play’s message—to revolutionize the body, the work, and the world via language. By letting the playwright’s words take both literal and metaphorical center stage, I was able to create a set in which the text became a character of its own. Using a single looming swath of white, semi-opaque plastic in the place of traditional black theatre masking, I created a sterile, foreign, and alienating physical space that the actor/performers could destroy and manipulate. Coupled with a full-stage cyclorama, the full back wall of white plastic created a lightbox which was used to highlight and broadcast projected supertitles of scripted scene titles. I worked closely with the lighting and media designer to hone in on moments where the text became the dominate scenic element and to use light to take the world from alienating and sterile to bright and chaotic in an instant. In this way, the set worked to our advantage to chameleon itself to the ever-changing tone of the text. The white set also provided an excellent contrast to the moment of violence where a literal bucket of blood was dumped on the white floor. This design process required me to be constantly engaged with the text, responding to the frustration with the way the world engages with women into set dressing and properties which were scattered throughout the space. One way of addressing this was the use of a series of mirrors which required actors/performers to be constantly engaged with the audience when facing upstage. There were also echoes of points of contention in feminism. Disembodied mannequin parts were scattered through the stage, representative of how the media chops women into parts rather than entire human beings. Symbols of feminine ideals, like high heels were littered throughout the stage and juxtaposed to masculine symbols and materials, such as construction equipment and steel.
Designing Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again championed a bold choice to commit to an unconventional material to create an unconventional production. My success also leaned on my ability to make concise choices in how to stylize the theatricalized scenes of violence on stage given a small budget. With a budget of $150, I was able to purchase the plastic backdrop which became the primary scenic element for the production. Given the chance to revisit this design, I would further push choices to stylize the properties and implement more hanging mirrors to push themes of reflection and subversion.
Copyright 2018 Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn