Behind the scenes: Reviving an 1840’s Barn for The Revival

Posted by Project Y - August 31, 2010

In The Dramatic Imagination by Robert Edmond Jones, a set designer is described as having the task to “…sense the atmosphere of a play with unusual clearness and exactness. He must actually live in it for a time, immerse himself in it, be baptized by it. This process is by no means so easy as it seems.”

For our upcoming production of The Revival, our illustrious Set Designer, Kevin Judge, does the unimaginable, he makes it all seem easy. It’s ironic that part of our play is set in a church. Kevin seems to have baptized himself in the world of the play, and soon enough he will be the priest of the audience, baptizing and transporting us to Hot Springs, Arkansas where the play takes place.

Below is an early sketch that Kevin created for the set of The Revival. With further collaboration with director Michole Biancosino and the rest of the company, some further adjustments have been made to serve the play and make our storytelling more dynamic. You’ll have to come see the show to see the final adjustments!

To create the set, Producing Artistic Director Andrew Smith, found theater gold. Through a Craig’s list advertisement, he found someone who was dismantling a barn that dates back to the 1840’s. On a rainy day last week, Andrew drove up to Massachusetts and removed planks of wood from one side of the barn. He was ecstatic to find the wood in “amazing condition.”

The use of this barn wood to build our set truly transforms the stage. Its texture, color, and history tells a story of its own. Jones also mentions in The Dramatic Imagination a vibration that is created with the fusing of all the objects that appear on a set: walls, furniture, props. He describes this fusing as “a kind of embodied impulse.”

Yes, the set vibrates, it pulses, and Jones does an incredible job of describing what happens next when the curtain rises: “Everything on the stage becomes a part of the life of the instant. The play becomes a voice out of a whirlwind. The terrible and wonderful dynamis of theatre pours over the footlights.”

Don’t you love that description? Where else can you experience that for the price of an $18 ticket? In NYC?!

Any thoughts on Jones’s description? What do you think are the essential elements to create a good set design?

(Set Design) (No Comments »)