Grand designs

posted in: Teaching in Lesvos | 1
One of the tubes being used in rehearsal

The date(s) for the productions have not yet been set, though they have to be before Aug 4th, when Val and I leave for Lebanon, and that does not leave a huge amount of time.  I have started to think about aspects of design, as these things cannot be left until the last minute.

My expectation is that we will be performing in Gekko X.  In terms of creating a set, that would keep things relatively simple, as the only item will be a backcloth, which can be hung from the balcony, thus providing a backstage area.  My initial thought was to find some cloth, maybe just a couple of bedsheets, but while chatting to Rachel, a member of the Better Days team, she suggested using strips of dinghy rubber, reclaimed from the inflatable boats which carry refugees from Turkey to the island.  This would be free, and also fits in with the recycled theme.  The only possible disadvantage is the possible reminder of trauma; we are taking advice from the professionals.

The props are also recycled.  Lying next to the wheelie bins at the bottom of our road – this communal provision is part of the landscape here, rather than have dustbin lorries trying to negotiate the narrow streets – I found an old chair.  There were also a number of those strong cardboard tubes that are found on the inside of bolts of fabric, and I grabbed these as well.  They seem to me very useful as soldiers’ weapons and symbolic staffs of office.  They could prove useful in the crowd scene at the beginning of the play, when they are used to control the crowd.  Nothing too graphic – more a slow-motion piece of choreography.

I do need to find something to represent the baby at the centre of the story.  As mentioned, when I directed the full version of the play, nearly thirty years ago, I used my own four month old baby, but that did not end well.  I don’t mean for Lucy – she has turned out great – but for the production.  I have learnt my lesson, and want something less unpredictable, but a baby doll is not right.  I have in mind something more like a shaped pillow; as it remains swaddled throughout, it doesn’t even need a face.  I will explore getting something made.

In some ways, costume is the biggest issue.  I spotted a lot of plain black t-shirts in the local supermarket for two euros each, so snapped them up, and they will serve as a base, especially if we can have them printed with a common design.  On top of that, I would like to go for a sort of fairy-tale aesthetic, so even the soldiers are not too graphically significant.  Rachel (again) has suggested approaching the women’s centre at One Happy Family, who might be able to help with making cloaks, sashes, tabards… All the more so if we can pay them for their labour.

Not only does it all seem do-able, but it all fits together. Coherent, and at very little cost.  Perfect.

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