Claire's sketch of the set design for Some Mother's Son.
Which designer are you? Set Designer
When I was little I was the kid in the back of theclassroom who drew instead of taking notes, I never stopped drawing. When I went to high school I got involved as an actress and after a few years I realized I could combine both my passion for theatre and my passion for visual art. I tooka few design classes here at Smith and completely fell in love with theatre design. I know now that designing for theatre or film is what I want to do for a living.
How and why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son?
This past summer I was working for Ed Check, the Set Design Professor at Smith with whom I have taken three classes. He asked me if I’d be interested in designing this show. After reading the script, I gladly accepted. I absolutely loved the play and thought starting off with are presentational piece would suit me very well.
Claire in Roussillon, near her hometown of
Lourmarin in the South of France.
Describe your design process (where do you start? what do you look to for inspiration? etc?).
I read the play a few times. The first time Idon’t take notes at all, I
just take in the story. The second time I go through it and underline what the playwright has included in his description. I then go through the whole script again and write down every action all characters do (For example: “Masha, goes to the sink. Goes to the phone and walks back to the sink.”) After I get a sense of all the different areas, I sketch three or four different configurations. I try to do these fairly quickly so as not to get myheart set on a particular one. Before that, for this play I mean, I looked at some “Ladies Home Journal” and “Home Beautiful” from the early 1960’s to get a sense of the trends and style of the era. After all of that I dig deeper and deeper in the research and look for specific details.
What has surprised, inspired, excited, and/or challenged you most throughout the process thus far?
This process has been alot of fun actually! Obviously I have to stay on my toes and make sure thingsare going smoothly in the shop. I think trusting my design and believing in my instincts has been the most challenging thing so far.
What are the joys and/or challenges of designing for Hallie Flanagan StudioTheatre:
Because I was really keen on making the basementreally present, off the bat I knew I wanted a both an interior stairwell and an exterior bulkhead leading to the basement. With this particular idea in mind the placement of the set was basically determined by the location of Hallie’s trap room. So my first challenge was to find the best emplacement for the set without creating impossible site lines to work with. On the other hand because the audience is so close to the playing field, the little details are what willmake this set look like a 1960’s kitchen. Therefore when I started my researchI looked at magazines and ads from the period, I even watched random episodes of “Julia Child: The French Chef,” and I had a blast doing that.
What is your favorite color?
Right now? Bordeaux Red. It changes depending on mymoods*
What is your least favorite color?
That’s a really hard question for me... As cheesy as this sounds, I
actually like all colors! A color can always be beautiful depending on
what other color it is combined with.
What turns you on?
Genuine smiles and effortless conversations.
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound my coffee maker makes when it is done brewing!
What sound or noise do you hate?
Fire alarms. They stress me out.
What is your favorite curse word?
“Va te faire foutre!” I am French and as awful as this sounds I miss
cursing in French.
What is something you want to do during your life?
Hold a monkey, among a lot of other things!
Earliest memory of theatre?
When I was eight years old my parents took afriend and me to a circus
show. A lady clown and a man clown did the openingact, and both my
friend and I were sold: we were going to join the circus! I just remember
how comfortable these adult clowns were in front of a pretty
big audience, even though they were dressed in outrageous outfits (that
is, tonormal standards). The fluidity of their act and the amazing
connection they were able to create through basic slapstick comedy
obviously required a confidence that I absolutely admired. And my friend
and I DID join the circusand that was definitely one of the best
decisions of my life.
Why is theatre necessary?
It brings all kinds of people together!