Tom Pye — Set Designer
Good research is always the best foundation for any design. In taking up the invitation to work with Jonathan Kent on Long Day's Journey Into Night, I felt compelled to go to the house that inspired Eugene O'Neill to write this play. I happened to be working in Boston at the American Repertory Theatre at the time, and so I travelled down the coast and spent a weekend in New London, Connecticut. It was a great opportunity to really soak up the atmosphere and architecture of the house and the town it is located in.
While I was there, I was extremely fortunate to be able to spend time with Robert M. Dowling and Robert A. Richter, two leading experts on O’Neill’s work and life, who generously shared their knowledge of O’Neill’s writing and its relationship to the house. The process of interpreting and reflecting on as much information as possible is always an important way for me to gain an understanding of the writing I design for.
Returning to my studio in the UK to work with Jonathan, it turned out to be very useful that one of us had seen O’Neill’s house and the other hadn’t. Jonathan responded to the text from a theatrical perspective, while I responded to the piece with the place in my mind. This enabled us to find a visual language to serve our staging that balances being “free” with the truth and at the same time reflects characteristics of the real building.
Perhaps this is most amplified in the final act where we explode the idea of the encroaching fog as a metaphor for the state of mind of the family and their descent into the numbing effects of alcohol and drugs. Their descent into dysfunction is echoed by the hazy disintegration of the house onstage.
Jane Greewood — Costume Designer
This is the fourth time I have designed costumes for Long Day's Journey Into Night. Each time, the process has been unique, but the challenge is the same: the characters need to look right for who they are, what they are doing, and where they are going. The story follows James Tyrone's family during the course of one day. During this day, the family's dirty linen is ultimately looked at from the point of view of each character.
For this production, the director Jonathan Kent and I discussed a desire for simplicity in the clothes, as a way to really focus attention on these characters. I pared away many of the decorative elements of the period and kept the color palette neutral to reflect the gray atmosphere of the day. In Act IV, the fog comes in and takes over. In a similar fashion, I thought of these clothes as a play on shadow and light; strong, simple silhouettes in the fog.
Natasha Katz — Lighting Designer
I’ve always dreamed of designing the lighting for Long Day’s Journey into Night. Just the title alone is filled with lighting imagery. One of many ways that Eugene O’Neill immerses us in this profoundly moving play is through light and darkness, which affects the characters’ emotions and behaviors. This play takes place within one day, from 8:30 in morning until late into the night. Tom Pye has designed a beautiful set where we see the interior and exterior of the house while also seeing the outdoors.
At the beginning of the play, we see light streaming through the windows, breathing warmth, life, and optimism into the Tyrone family. As the day progresses and dwindles into night, shadows form inside and outside the house, making it harder for the characters to find their bearings. This is a family whose life secrets, memories, dreams, and addictions are hidden in the shadows of their minds. As the day fades into a foggy night, where the optimism of sunlight disappears, all these feelings become more apparent. My hope is that the lighting will not only guide the audience through time of day and weather but will also underscore the emotions of the characters as the day progresses and dwindles to night.
Clive Goodwin — Sound Designer
The cycles of addiction and disease, of a family constantly revisiting old fights and opening old wounds left by the past, which they are always unable to forget.
The repetitive mournful sound of the foghorn serves as a fitting reminder of these cycles that are created out of loneliness, even in the midst of a loving but bickering family. The footsteps heard overhead, echoes of a past that has walked back into their lives.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night seems to call for very little sonic embellishment, being instead focused on the familial interactions. This led me to realize that I had to concentrate on conveying the dialogue with an accuracy, clarity, and fidelity that would allow the audience to absorb themselves in the story as if they were invisible guests eavesdropping on the family.
The sound needed to be…well, almost silent! It needed to be unnoticeable, unobtrusive, and only transport what was already there—nearly always the goals of the sound design of a play—but careful enhancement, punctuated by our mournful foghorn and distant footsteps, would be how our family would be presented as they slowly disintegrate.
We shall have to see if the aim was true.
2015-2016 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Upstage