Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog


AN INTERVIEW WITH SET DESIGNER BEOWULF BORITT

AN INTERVIEW WITH SET DESIGNER BEOWULF BORITT

Obie Award-winning scenic designer Beowulf Boritt returns to Merrimack Rep this season after debuting his work on the Liberty Hall stage in last season’s heralded production of Heroes. As set designer for Beasley’s Christmas Party, he was charged with the task of creating a set that has to represent many locations, and is inhabited by many different characters, both real and imaginary. As part of our Student Matinee Playguide series, Beowulf was kind enough to answer a few questions about his design for Beasley’s Christmas Party.

Joey Collins, Crystal Finn and Tony Ward in Beasley's Christmas Party. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Q : Beasley’s Christmas Party takes place in the American Midwest at the end of the 19th Century. Explain how you went about conveying this setting in the set design?

A : The set is very abstract. The play has something of the quality of children playing make believe in an attic of forgotten oddments, and the set springs from that – though it isn’t a realistic attic, more of a space inspired by an attic.

Q : This is not your first time working on this play. You worked on Keen Company’s production of Beasley’s Christmas Party. What made you want to work on this play again?

A : The director, Carl Forsman, is a good friend, and when he asked me to do it, I was delighted to get to work with him.

Q : How does this production differ from Keen Company’s version of Beasley’s Christmas Party?

A : We’ve aimed to make it very similar. The Stage at Merrimack is remarkably close to the size of the off-Broadway theatre we played in, so the set is very similar. The auditorium at Merrimack is larger, but we’re hoping to achieve the same intimacy.

Q : Did you learn anything, in hindsight, from that experience that you wanted to enhance or modify for this production?

A : We’re trying to re-use the techniques that worked to tell the story the last time we did it.

Q : While designing the set for this stage specifically, what challenges did you come across? Were there any advantages from doing this production on Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s stage?

A : Because the Merrimack stage is shallow, I had to wrestle with sightlines a little, to try to make clean entrances, but as I’ve said, the set is remarkably similar to how it looked in New York.

Crystal Finn, Tony Ward and Joey Collins in Beasley's Christmas Party. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Q : Set design is an essential part of a play’s mood. What mood did you want to establish through the set design and what if any feelings do you want evoked to the audience from the visual aspects of the production?

A : We wanted to create a mysterious space where the imaginative playfulness of the story could exist.

Want to see more of Beowulf’s designs? Head over to www.beowulfboritt.com, and see photos from many of his productions, including the Broadway productions of Rock of Ages and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

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