Sharing space

Our upcoming production of 2 by Pearl features two one-act plays written by Pearl Cleage; Hospice and Late Bus to Mecca. One of the challenges in producing a collection of one-act plays is always the set design – how do you create a set that accommodates multiple stories and creates a cohesive world for the audience without sacrificing specific needs of any single script?

In the past, we’ve done collections of one-act plays by John Guare and by Lanford Wilson, and we wrestled with this question both times. For 4 by Guare, we went minimalistic – four moveable platforms that could be rolled around the stage to create different playing spaces. For Sextet, we created a rotating wedge-shaped platform that could revolve to give us walls and/or a raised playing space.

hpim0624.jpgFor 2 by Pearl, set designer Chris Corwin has imagined a design that incorporates a little of each of these prior designs – we’ll have a small revolving playing space surrounded by two moveable platforms, giving us a way to move between the two pieces quickly (a ten minute intermission isn’t as long as you’d think when you’re working on a major set change) while keeping a consistent aesthetic for the full evening.

Hospice takes place inside the home of Alice Anderson, and it’s a home that Pearl describes as being well-lived in: “The feeling of the [downstairs] room is cluttered, but not claustrophobic,” the stage directions indicate. The walls of the platforms, visible only during Hospice, will give Chris places to add the details that will bring this room to life. And in a play that’s all about life and death (Alice is fighting cancer; her daughter Jenny is pregnant and due to give birth any minute), those details are enormously important.  

After intermission, Late Bus to Mecca takes us to a different world entirely – the only description Pearl gives us is the only description needed: “A Greyhound bus station in downtown Detroit, Michigan.” The series of short scenes between Ava and ABW (short for A Black Woman) as they wait for the bus to Atlanta (and to Muhammed Ali’s historic return to boxing) don’t really need anything but two chairs and some props, but the flexibility of Chris’s set will allow us to give a detailed feel to this bus station as well.


2 Responses

  1. nat.
    this stuff is cool.

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