ROUNDABOUT BLOG

Love, Love, Love: The World of the Play, 1967

Posted on: December 4th, 2016 by Roundabout

 

The late 1960s were a time of social and political change in both Britain and the United States. In many ways these were the conclusion of shifts begun in the wake of WWII. For the older generation, these changes were disorienting; for Love, Love, Love protagonists Kenneth and Sandra, representatives of the cohort born just after the war, they were a natural evolution of the only society they had ever known.

 

Sample of a UK Child's Ration Book, WWII

Sample of a UK Child's
Ration Book, WWII

THE END OF AN EMPIRE

While the United States emerged from WWII as a world power with a strong economy, Britain was left bankrupt and physically devastated, unable to maintain control over its far-flung colonies. Between 1945 and 1968, more than two dozen British colonies, including India, all became independent nations. At the same time, immigration to Britain rose due to the need for new workers to rebuild the British economy. Indians, Poles, and West Indians arrived in large numbers.

A MORE AFFLUENT POPULATION

Though Britain struggled economically after the war, by the late 1950s the country was more affluent than ever before. There was a purposeful effort to build a more equitable, less class-based, society. The creation of the social safety net, including national health insurance and payments to families to offset the cost of caring for children, raised the material standard of living. Employment levels were high, and families could afford cars and televisions for the first time. Housing estates, similar to older American suburbs and early public housing developments, were built to replace housing destroyed in the war and to house those displaced by slum clearance projects. These estates featured amenities uncommon in previous generations: central heating and indoor plumbing.

ACCESS TO EDUCATION

The Education Act of 1944 made secondary school, equivalent to high school in the United States, free and available to all students. Previously, secondary school had been almost exclusively for upper class males. Beginning in 1962, universities in Britain were free: the state paid students’ tuition and awarded maintenance grants to cover living expenses. Between 1960 and 1970 the number of Britons earning a college degree doubled. Kenneth and Sandra are part of this group.

Recruitment Poster for the National Service

Recruitment Poster for the National Service

THE END OF NATIONAL SERVICE

From 1939 until 1960 all British men between 18 and 21 were conscripted into National Service and required to spend 18 months in the military and four years on reserve. This system was phased out between 1960 and 1963. Kenneth was part of the first group of teenagers not required to join the military in two decades.

WOMEN

Women in Britain in the 1960s did not have the rights or opportunities of their male peers. Most left school at 15, worked for several years, and married by their early twenties. Pursuing a college degree makes Sandra part of an elite group.

Though an official marriage bar — which required women in civil service to give up their jobs after marriage — ended in 1946, women were still expected to leave work after marriage in many fields. Women could not get credit or make large purchases without a male guarantor.

Birth control became available to married women only in 1961, but it was not prescribed to unmarried women until 1974. Abortion was legalized in 1967, but the law required the doctor, not the woman, to make the decision about whether or not abortion was appropriate.

The women’s liberation movement coalesced in the late 1960s around issues of wage equality. Women earned 54% of what men earned on average and in many cases were paid less for exactly the same work.

Students on their way to class, early 1970s

Students on their way to class, early 1970s

YOUTH CULTURE

British and American young people in the late 1960s were similar in their rejection of “the establishment,” a term for those who hold political or cultural power in a society. The revolutionary, rebellious music of the decade spanned the Atlantic, as did the appreciation of recreational drugs and free love. But the United States had two challenges the British did not face: direct involvement with the Vietnam War, and a major civil rights movement.

The main political cause for British youth was the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. CND unilaterally opposed nuclear weapons, held at the time by the U.S., Britain, and the Soviet Union, out of fear of a nuclear war and in moral objection to the loss of civilian life seen after atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945. While CND opposed the war in Vietnam, not many Britons were active participants in the Campaign in the late 1960s.

Twiggy

Twiggy

British youth culture centered on “Swinging London.” Swinging was slang for hip or fashionable, and came into use in the late 1950s. Perhaps because the political situation in Britain felt less urgent, Swinging London was all about music and fashion. “Mod,” short for modern, clothes were in: miniskirts and shift dresses in bold colors and prints, designed by Mary Quant and modeled by Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton.

U.S. AND VIETNAM

U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which began in the early 1950s, was driven by fear of communist expansion. By the late 1960s many Americans no longer supported the war because they objected to American soldiers dying in another country’s civil war, learned of the death and devastation caused by the American and south Vietnamese militaries, and/or or considered American involvement a form of imperialism. The draft system, which conscripted men between 18-21 to serve in the military, drew heavily from minority populations and was seen as unfair. Student groups, civil rights activists, mothers’ organizations, and clergy were all involved in the anti-war movement.

The U.S. civil rights movement, which began in 1954 and had forced change in U.S. laws and practices in housing, employment, education, and voting rights, continued in the late 1960s. Britain, which didn’t have a significant minority population until the immigration of the 1950s, also passed anti-discrimination laws during this period. Overall, the movement was much larger in the United States.

1967 FACTS

  • Senator Edward Brooke, Republican of Massachusetts, becomes the first popularly elected African-American Senator since Reconstruction.
  • The Great Human Be-In in San Francisco features Timothy Leary, who tells the crowd to “Turn on, tune in, drop out”
  • The first ATM is installed in a North London bank.
  • Male homosexuality is decriminalized in Britain.
  • The Outer Space Treaty is signed by the U.S.A, the U.K., and the Soviet Union. It prohibits orbiting weapons of mass destruction.
  • The first air conditioned subway car goes into service in NYC.
  • The first black police officer joins the the London Metropolitan Police Force.
  • The first heart transplants are performed in Cape Town and New York City.
  • In Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Love, Love, Love is now playing at the Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit our website.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Love Love Love


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Kingdom Come: Designer Statements

Posted on: December 3rd, 2016 by Roundabout

 

Set model for KINGDOM COME

Set model for Kingdom Come

ARNULFO MALDONADO—SET DESIGN
Kingdom Come to me is very much a rollercoaster of emotions — one minute you're laughing, the next you are struck by the severity of both Sam and Layne's loneliness and need to connect on an emotional level with someone, anyone. The dialogue is so fluid and natural, it grounds both of these women so vividly in their own worlds — you wholly connect with them even though you might not understand their motives at the onset of their interactions online. In designing the set, it was important for me to understand the architecture/styles of homes found in Carson City, Nevada and how the design of such houses would work with and against Sam's bedridden state. Since this woman is confined to her bed, it made sense to Kip Fagan, the director, and me to place her bed in the most communal space found in these homes, the living room (versus a bedroom). That lead me to look at hundreds of real estate listings from Carson City, and with many of these listings, the homes are not furnished — bare homes with little in them. This seemed key in terms of Sam's world: Her surroundings are purposely stark and minimal. A very large part of both Sam and Layne's worlds is found online, and it was clear that these sparse rooms would also help in creating clean canvases for their online personas to come to life.

This play has a particular pace in which transitions need to move quickly and seamlessly — a challenge, given the space and the numerous locations that Kingdom Come traverses. That said, Sam and her bed needed to feel grounded and permanent, so we decided early on to make the home be the basis for all these different locales, utilizing the various entrances/exits found in the home. The furniture of Sam's home could also then be reconfigured/rethought so as to guide the audience through the office at Layne's work, the cafe, etc. The Black Box Theatre is an intimate space, and by continuing the carpet of the home under the theatre seats, we hope to allow the play to breathe a bit more and to get that much closer to the audience. The advantage of a small space, coupled with the online world coming to life, is that it completely immerses one into the rabbit hole that is their online personas/lives.

 

TILLY GRIMES/COSTUME—DESIGN
The goal for me was to take the humanity and beauty of Jenny’s text and help lift it off the page, underlining it while still making all the characters look and feel very real in their clothes. Our first costume challenge was how to make Sam, an obese, housebound 30-something's weight feel real in the intimate space of the Roundabout Underground. After watching copious videos, and diving into the anatomical study of obesity, we were able to learn how various women “wear” their weight. We ended up modeling off of a woman named Bettie-Joe, whose 567 lbs. rested on a petite frame, and who had a comparable height to actress Carmen Herlihy. From there I started to draw a 360-degree sketch of Sam’s body as the body suit’s basis. As Sam is seated through the play, the way the suit moves presented a challenge. We brought the artists at Puppet Kitchen on board to help fabricate and finesse how the movement of the suit would shift from a seated to a standing position. We also brought makeup artist Dave Bova on board to finesse the edges of the suit so that we could blur the transition from the suit to the actress’s own skin. The insecurity of all the characters in Jenny’s play presents an interesting scale from a clothes perspective. The difference between the “peacocking” characters who parade their bodies around with “confidence” versus the quietness of those hiding in their body or clothes. I wanted to help us meet the characters of Suz, Dom,and Delores who social butterfly in with chatter and energy, while aligning Sam and Layne as the quiet centers of the world. For example, Layne and Sam are less clothing conscious. They are hiding: Sam in her weight, and Layne in her self-consciousness. Their shyness or resignation seems to want less saturated color. An invisibility. Dom, Suz, and Dolores, by contrast, all like to pay attention to how they look. They hustle and bustle in and out with confidence, implying a boldness. By using more color and graphic prints when they each arrive, they bring an energy to both Layne and Sam. This energy is echoed in Layne and Sam’s alter egos when they fantasize about who they could be. The intimacy of the Underground presents specific parameters. It was clear we had to approach both the body suit and clothes with the level of detail for film - making sure everything feels very lived in and real to honor and not crowd the rich characters Jenny has written.

 

THOM WEAVER—LIGHTING DESIGN
When I first read Kingdom Come, I found it truly surprising. There’s so much talk these days about our generational struggle with communication technology, but what’s lost in the hand-wringing is that we’re not less connected, we’re more connected than ever. That’s what we’re trying to figure out. I think this play explores the virtual world of relationships without the assumption that it’s always a bad thing. I didn’t have to do a lot of visual research for this production…I rarely do. That’s not typically my approach. A lot of my research was into the story surrounding Manti Te’o. Prior to that research, I’d never heard of “catfishing.” Looking back at the coverage of that story, I’m amazed at the tone of it -- the notion that what he did was stupid or gullible. I think what’s lost in that appraisal is that he actually loved this person, he actually felt a connection. It led me to ask this question: Perhaps the fact that the premise of the relationship was fraudulent doesn’t negate the connection itself? The technical challenge of this show is telling a big story in a tiny space. The other challenge is finding a visual language for a digital realm. It is not often we explore the physical space that our virtual lives inhabit. In working on this design, I have had to consider: what does that look and feel like?

 

 Carmen M. Herlihy and Crystal Finn (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Carmen M. Herlihy and Crystal Finn (Photo by Joan Marcus)

 

DARREL MALONEY—PROJECTION DESIGN
The projection design for Kingdom Come explores how the internet both connects and isolates, creating realities that can evaporate in a moment of doubt. When the play starts, the projections exist as two very separate and isolated images of two people’s computer screens. As the human connection grows, the images and ideas they are chatting about spread across the space and are no longer two separate ideas, but one singular image that takes us into a fantasy world. When the relationship becomes more intimate, the quality of the text we see projected subtly transforms and softens to simulate the psychological intimacy these two are developing. These glowing words on a screen become more human as the fantasy of each other begins to take shape. The animation of the words they are typing out wants to visually convey the emotional value they each put on them as they read these words, alone. The presentation of the text takes on a much more emotive quality than simply subtitling their words. When they are confronted with the reality of the relationship, the projections return to two separate and very isolated worlds, leaving them once again isolated from each other, the human connection broken.

 

DANIEL PERELSTEIN—SOUND DESIGN
The sound design of Kingdom Come has two main responsibilities. The first is to work with the scenic and lighting designs to help establish location; the second is to work with the video design to create a vivid world of the Internet. In some ways, these two responsibilities represent opposite extremes of the spectrum: one is a world of entirely literal sounds, and the other is a world of complete abstraction.

Because the scenic design for this production is a single set that needs to work for multiple locations, the sound design becomes a streamlined way of helping the audience identify each new location very quickly. The director, Kip Fagan, has created instantaneous shifts between locations, so the sound design involves a number of crisp signifiers to aid these shifts.

In Kingdom Come, the Internet is an imagined reality that the characters can escape to. The sound and video designs work together to color this space vividly and support the fantasies that they find in cyberspace. To create the world of the Internet, nothing is off-limits — musical textures, and any sounds we can imagine, become part of the palette. In this day and age, we all know the feeling of losing track of time, and losing yourself, in technology. It was important to me that sound capture this feeling and transport us, rather than being overly concerned with the specific, literal significance of any individual sound.

 


Kingdom Come is now playing at the Black Box Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. Visit our website for tickets and more information.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Kingdom Come, Roundabout Underground, Upstage


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Donors Paula Davis and Eileen Kaminsky with Holiday Inn star Corbin Bleu

Donors Paula Davis and Eileen Kaminsky with Holiday Inn star Corbin Bleu

 

On Monday, November 14, Todd Haimes (Artistic Director/CEO) joined with Roundabout’s major donors and some of Roundabout’s artists for the annual Artistic Director’s Circle Dinner. This year’s dinner was held on stage at historic Studio 54 on the set of the hit Holiday Inn: the New Irving Berlin Musical. This event is just one of the ways Roundabout thanks our highest level donors—the Artistic Director's Circle—for their generous support.

Lauren and Danny Stein, Andy Cowin, and The Cherry Orchard’s Stephen Karam and John Glover

Lauren and Danny Stein, Andy Cowin, and THE
CHERRY ORCHARD's Stephen Karam and
John Glover

The exclusive evening included cocktails, dinner and mingling with Roundabout artists including: Cherry Jones, Diane Lane, Tony Shalhoub, John Glover, Stephen Karam, Richard Armitage, Corbin Bleu, Jenny Rachel Weiner, Scott Ellis, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Jessica Hecht, Lora Lee Gayer, and Gordon Greenberg.

Adams Associate Artistic Director, Scott Ellis, director of last season’s award-winning She Loves Me, welcomed guests to the titular Connecticut inn, designed by Tony-nominee Anna Louizos. Catering and décor by Sonnier & Castle featured a festive holiday meal on rustic, autumnal table-settings, with table centerpieces by Seasons A Floral.

Donors Jeffrey McClendon and Sharon Richey-McClendon with Cherry Jones and Tony Shalhoub

Donors Jeffrey McClendon and Sharon
Richey-McClendon with Cherry Jones and Tony Shalhoub

Todd Haimes welcomed all of the artists and provided the donors with an exclusive glimpse into the 2017-2018 season that is to come.

Other special guests included Board of Directors members John Gordon, Meryl Hartzband, Mary Cadagin and Leadership Council chair Carmen Grossman and member Cynthia Wainwright.

For more information about the dinner or joining the Artistic Director's Circle, learn more online or contact Christopher Nave, Associate Director of Development at 212.719.9393, ext. 314 or christophern@roundabouttheatre.org.

 

On the set of Holiday Inn at Studio 54

On the set of HOLIDAY INN at Studio 54


Related Categories:
Special Events


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