The Internationalist (SCENIC DESIGN)
By Anne Washburne
Part of the Next Up Series at the Steppenwolf Garage.
Directed by Erin C. Murray
Scenic Design by Stephanie Cluggish
Costume Design by Chelsey Batson
ighting Design by Rebecca Barrett
A young American businessman steps off a plane in an undisclosed land to find that his usual brash but honest Americanness is less than impressive to the locals. In a series of missteps guided by jet lag and the intricacies of a quick romance in a foreign language he cannot master, Lowell tries desperately to be a hero in a world that is much bigger than he understands. The play is fueled by the contrast of Lowell’s imagined ideals against his actual experiences in this foreign place. The set is comprised of a large, almost factory-like window set in a forbidding wall, the plaster cracking away to reveal brick. The cement walls have had modern electrical conduit and sleek doors added, but the glossy black paint on the walls is just a veneer over centuries of use. Each scene employs just a set of tables and chairs to create each location; as the repeating elements are rearranged for every scene, there is a sense that we have been here before--things look familiar, but turn out to be different than we remember. There is an underlying sinister feel to the architecture that reflects the feeling that everything and everyone in this city seems to have the upper hand on Lowell.
The set was inspired by the many buildings in Eastern Europe that have stood for centuries and have had a variety of uses over the years, ranging from the banal to the atrocious. The building has seen all the varieties of human joy and suffering. I wanted Lowell to feel slightly insignificant in the room, in whatever location he happened to be in. Even as the rooms change by small shifts in the furniture, there is some strategic double casting in the script that also doubles Lowell’s confusion as he sees what seem to be the same tables, the same chairs, and the same faces pass him by.
This production will run in rep with The Drunken City and Fat Pig at the Steppenwolf Garage. Previews begin May 28, 2013. roduction photos to follow.