Q&A: Designer Anna Tregloan
One’s a hilarious Broadway comedy and one’s a Tennessee Williams classic… playing during the same season… on the same stage. How, you may ask? We sat down with FULLY COMMITTED & BABY DOLL designer Anna Tregloan to get the inside scoop behind the worlds of the play and her creative approach when designing for a double bill.
The Ensemble season is different to designing for most performances. Because the two plays are programmed on top of each other, the methodology behind the design shifts. Not only do both performances need to work on this intimate stage but they need to flip from one to the other in a time frame shorter than many intervals. Designers might choose from several approaches but I chose to begin by looking at what possible points of intersection there were between the two works. Working with Kate and Shaun, we recognised a set of stairs as key as well as downstairs and upstairs rooms and exits.
Simultaneously we talked through what object driven, physical addition would aid each work. For FULLY COMMITTED this was the telephones. These are of course predicated by the script but we chose to amplify it. By multiplying the phones we gave Contessa Treffone (Sam) a multitude of physical options and a shape which drove her to encompass all areas of the surrounding audience. We also chose to push into the slim implausibility of the script by making it a slightly dated and cumbersome system. Obviously, this is not the type of phone system an actual contemporary restaurant would use but it allowed a level of abstraction where we could push the truth and play into the theatricality of the situation.
Responding to the unstoppable force within BABY DOLL as she matures Shaun and I were quickly attracted to a thematic of ‘nature reclaiming’. We poured over images of plants forcing their way through cracks in the architecture. Buildings where man had lost (or given up) control and the natural world was quickly moving in. Although the script for BABY DOLL asks for numerous pieces of furniture and props, we agreed to fight against this (in part due to the challenge of moving everything in and out between shows) and it was wonderful to see the cast and Shaun find so many ways to invigorate the rambling structure in place of tables, chairs, a car, attic and much else.
At the core of both plays is also a brooding, simmering force. A woman pushed to the edge of what she accepts and is willing to give over to the incumbent powers. This is contained in the image of the cloud (it might be steam of a pot on the boil, or rolling dust, or a storm about to break) which fills the back wall and seeps out over the stage. This addition gave us a more open space for the imagination of the audience to see these worlds in different ways as well as opening up the possibilities for Verity Hampson (Lighting Designer) to more readily shift and push the drama of the space.