ROUNDABOUT BLOG

Time and the Conways Design Statements

Posted on: November 9th, 2017 by Roundabout

Neil Patel/Set Design

The scenic design for Time and the Conways is a visualization of the change and the simultaneity of time that occurs in the play. To do this I created a perfect symmetry between Act 1 (1919) and Act 2 (1937) by stacking the rooms one on top of the other with transparency between the two to allow both moments in time to exist together for the audience. It's one of my favorite designs for its simplicity and clarity.

Paloma Young/Costume Design

The envelope of Time and the Conways, especially in its setting andinhabitants, is deceptively realistic. The metaphysical philosophies explored in the play needed a strong naturalistic base from which to spring—something Rebecca and I both agreed on when we set out to design the costumes. When we meet the Conways in 1919, they’re mid-party and living lushly. We gravitated towards more saturated colors that would tell the story of prized family—a glittering jewel box of beautiful, sparkling people—intoxicating to outsiders and even to each other. The style is current, if not even more hopeful and forward looking—their clothing should add to the atmosphere of mirth, hope, and new beginnings.

Jumping forward to 1937, we use costume to reinforce the stories of how each of these lives has diverged. We desaturated the colors to strike a more somber tone and reflect the seriousness of the family’s  financial and personal woes. While the styles and materials of the 1919 costumes were very similar, here each Conway has become more individualized and shaped by their life experiences. Some wear old, worn clothes of the early twenties (a cessation of forward motion), while others are dressed very fashionably (but perhaps not living comfortably in their attire). When we return to 1919, we’re hoping to play a subconscious trick of the eye on the audience. After acclimating to the neutral, desaturated colors of 1937, we should see the original jewel-box costumes in a different light. What was, at first impression, joyful, can seem on a revisit more fragile and superficial, like beautiful wrapping paper.

Christopher Akerlind/Lighting Designer

I saw this play at the Huntington Theatre Company in 1983 while a student at Boston University. Then and now, I was deeply moved by the idea of time contained within the question of how precognition might change or deepen our experience of the present. Would we be better at being or would we lose our minds? I love the play. I love working with Rebecca Taichman. At this point, given the improvisational way in which Rebecca and I work together, there are still questions to be answered before we know what the lighting of our production can and/or will be. Speaking of time as it relates to theatre process, I’ve always thought that the later the ideas come, or, in other words, the closer they’re developed to the point at which director and designers hand the production to the actors and stage managers from opening night and onward, the more appropriate to the current moment they’d be. I like to wait. In this production, Rebecca and set designer Neil Patel have concocted an ingenious architectural device to effect the sense of changing time, forward and backward. Though my preparation, including determining the places the lighting fixtures will occupy, deciding their color or other effects, will happen months before we begin creating the various and necessary looks and how light moves over time, these elements can still be improvised as needed: changing colors, moving fixtures in space, changing the entire lighting geography as needed.

Lighting in act one. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Lighting in Act 2. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.


Time and the Conways runs through November 26 at the American Airlines Theatre. For tickets and information, please visit our website .



Related Categories:
2017-2018 Season, Time and the Conways


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