Designer Statements: Little Children Dream of God

Posted on: March 21st, 2015 by Roundabout


Little Children Dream of God in its scope, use of language, poetic narrative, and culturally specific perspective has given me so much to explore. My hope is that we’ve created a world that enriches and emboldens the mystery and poeticism of the play. Set primarily in Overtown—a neighborhood in Miami—as well as numerous other locations, the play calls for a transformative, flexible space that allows for moments of specificity and location set within a larger dreamscape. Our goal has been to create a design that bends to the audience’s imagination and supports the heightened theatricality and ephemeral quality that runs deeply through the narrative and language. We also hoped to find a gesture that was singular in its tonality—but also culturally specific to both Overtown, Miami and to the Haitian community that lives there. In researching this world, we found ourselves drawn to the murals of artist Purvis Young. We found his dynamic, expressionistic work to be whimsical and iconographic, dark and dangerous—yet playful—existing at a crossroads of folksy and urban. This is a modern, timely, American myth tapping deeply into the traditions of a specific community.

Set Design

GINA SCHERR, Lighting Design

The main consideration in lighting Little Children Dream of God is accounting for the many different locations and moods in the piece. As we transition from the ocean to an apartment etc., the light will help locate us within the frame of the flexible set. At the same time, the relationship between dreams and waking life will also need to be delineated with light, while allowing the worlds to bleed together in the liminal space. One major influence that came up during the design process involves the vibrant Haitian immigrant life in Miami. The scenic mural certainly helps illustrate that idea, and the light will play off of that with saturated colors and bold shapes. The darkness of the play, reflected in the scenic design, is another consideration. The light will need to reflect the haunting of the characters while serving the needs of the space. As we shift between vodou dreams and reality, the light will clarify where we are and where we’re going. It’s a marrying of the worlds of darkness and light, good and evil, and past and future.


When I first read Little Children Dream of God, I imagined the beautifully naturalistic world that Jeff (our playwright) has created, the world in which the play seems to live. This world, however, has a darker, more surreal and magical counterpart that resides in the language, characters, and conflicts of the piece. The two, the realism and the magic, live in a beautiful harmony. To wrap my head around this dichotomy, my first steps were what I consider seemingly obvious—I read the play, I made lists, I talked to Giovanna, our fearless director, to see what she envisioned for the visual language and world of the play. I asked Jeff why he wrote the play. That’s an important piece for me to get inside a new work. Then, armed with this knowledge, I spent several days at the Strand Bookstore, in the library, and on the web researching images. I researched vodou practices so I could begin to understand the darker parts of the piece. I immersed myself in images of Overtown, Miami, to get a sense of the realistic world in which these characters reside. After pouring over images, Giovanna and I decided the best approach to the costume design was to make the clothes as realistic as possible. The only way we can believe some of the things that the characters tell us is to visually believe the characters as honestly as they take themselves. Then, even though this particular show is set in the modern day and the clothes are not being custom made, I drew many sketches so Giovanna, Jeff, and our cast could get a true sense of each character’s visual arc. The next step resulted in a lot of “method shopping,” or trying to figure out where characters would actually shop. Would they go to WalMart or Saks? Once we get believable looks, the team then can address the magical (what does 11 months pregnant look like?). Hopefully all of this collaboration results in an audience completely believing each character and, for a play like this, having the costumes become part of the actors’ physicality so that they don’t even appear to be wearing a “costume.”




Little Children Dream of God is playing at the Black Box Theatre through April 5. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2014-2015 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Little Children Dream of God, Little Children Dream of God, Roundabout Underground, Upstage

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