Love, Love, Love: Designer Statements

Posted on: December 10th, 2016 by Roundabout
Set models for three different acts of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Set models for three different acts of Love, Love, Love

The story of Love, Love, Love takes place in three different eras during three different acts.  It is partly about a generational war and deals very much with the time periods the characters are living in. The first act takes place in 1967, the second act is in 1990, and the third act is happening more or less now. When the play starts, you don’t necessarily know a lot about who the characters are -- so the set design has to create not only the living environments of these particular characters, but it also needs to give the audience a sense of when the action is happening and where. I have worked really hard on recreating the period details of each act.  For example, in the first act, which has the most pronounced difference in terms of current styles, people living in a flat in North London in the late 60s didn’t necessarily have central heating or hot water. I did a lot of research on the possible look of each setting by finding period photographs and looking at real estate ads. One of the challenges in designing this show is we need three different settings, and it is rather difficult to use a turntable in the Pels, so I kept most of the choices minimal. But, in fact, my main goal was trying to reflect what a set might look like for a play that was produced during the same time periods. So the first act evokes what a set for a Harold Pinter play might have been at that time, the second act evokes the look of an Alan Ayckbourn play, and the third act is the most contemporary and looks like a play written by Mike Bartlett. Michael Mayer, the director, and I have worked together before, and we have a shorthand. We both realized that the story is so strong in Mike’s play, that the challenge of the set design is to help tell the story and not get in the way of it.

Costume renderings for the character of "Sandra" in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Costume renderings for the character of "Sandra" in Love, Love, Love

Love, Love, Love is a play with three very distinctively different worlds. The first world is all about dreaming of the future. Using the backdrop of post war 1960s London, we will create a class structure, ranging from a poverty-stricken, dingy, worn down, lower-class worker to highly educated, fashionable, thriving Oxford University students. In this act, I am going to create the foundation for Mike Bartlett’s beautifully written, dream-filled characters so that they will have room to grow into the powerful, self-absorbed, painfully unaware people we see in Act III. The second act is all about sacrificing for money in 1990s London. We see these characters living the life they dreamed of, and paying the consequences. With money as the signifier for success, we need to see wealth all around this family. We have children in private school uniforms, men in expensive designer suits and women in powerful work attire. But with all of this success comes complications, which we will see. Set in 2011, the third world is about the conflict between generations; the older generation basking in their success and living the life of leisure, and a younger generation unable to succeed in the world they inherited. My job is to show the division between the two generations. The older generation with feel expensive and luxurious, while the younger generation will relate back to the poverty-stricken world we saw in Act I. We see how time and excess has treated this family, for better or for worse.

My first creative task as I envision my lighting design is to determine how I will craft the environment for the characters to inhabit as they tell the story of the playwright. In Love, Love, Love, I have the added challenge of creating three distinctive environments that span six decades. An enormously fun challenge. In creative meetings with Michael Mayer, he suggested each act should have a unique look, perhaps three different light plots. Design Notes: Three distinctive Acts. Three unique decades. The characters age dramatically throughout the play. The world that they inhabit should grow to reflect their age, taste, and attitude. Act 1, Summer of 1967, monochromatic, moody yet funny, shadows, simple, honest yet cheeky, television light; Act 2, Spring, 1990, bright, late 80s sitcom, soft, very pink, very rosy; Act 3, Summer 2011, severe and austere, sharp, edgy, high contrast, silvery, sleek, perfect, and beautiful.

As a sound designer, I never want to sonically distract listeners and take away from the storytelling; conceptually, I only want to add sound elements that are absolutely necessary to aid in telling the story. In Love, Love, Love, Mike Bartlett is very clear in his script which pieces of music he desires to set the time, place, and mood for each act, and thus part of my job can be somewhat utilitarian— facilitating the playwright’s wishes by providing the right edits to the music or sound element. Where I can better express my creativity is by manipulating how the audience hears those songs: obviously the music has to be localized to a practical record player or television on stage, and making that as realistic as possible is one of my goals. Then, as the music fades into or out of the audience listening area, I can have a little more fun in how that transition happens — I can be specific in where the sound appears to be coming from while subtly adjusting the dynamics of the music so that it can also feel as if the music is enveloping the audience.


Love, Love, Love is now playing at the Laura Pels 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, Love Love Love, Upstage

1 Comment
  1. Roundabout Theater publishes #LLLPlay designer statements #richardarmitage | Me + Richard Armitage

    December 10, 2016

    […] Here. Illumination as to set, lighting, costuming, and sound design choices. Again, why so late? […]


Leave a Reply to Roundabout Theater publishes #LLLPlay designer statements #richardarmitage | Me + Richard Armitage

Thank you for your comment. Please note that our comments are moderated and do not appear immediately.