For the current Shaw Festival production of William Golding's classic Lord of the Flies (adapted by Nigel Williams), set and costume designer Cameron Porteous returned to his roots; the play marked his return to the Festival stage since his departure as head of design for work in film. Below, Porteous discusses his design:
Lord of the Flies should not be produced in a naturalistic manner. Its structure is created for three different levels, which play together at times. These levels are the beach, the jungle, or middle ground, and the cliffs, or high ground. To achieve this structure and at the same time give height to the performing space, I chose a performing area of three large steps.
The performance area is suspended in three frames. Since there is no naturalistic scenery, it is important to create scenes with the use of light and projected images. The superimposing of these images creates the mood and atmosphere of the play, a play that centers on the four elements of earth, fire, air, and water, and reveals the primitive instincts hidden in each and every one of us.
In Act I, the outer frame suggests the paradise of this South Sea island the boys have arrived upon. The sandy island is surrounded by sky and water, giving the space a surreal look, not unlike the Dali painting of a child on the beach. As the scene develops, each frame takes on the images of each area of the island.
In Act II, outside influences, such as the landing of the dead parachutist, appear. It is nighttime, and primeval images of monsters and beasts begin to surface inside the boys' imaginations. Civilization on the island begins to disintegrate, and the space begins to reflect that reality.
Act III is bright day, but the sky suggests the approaching wind and rain. The jungle has been raped, and the island has been desecrated with human waste, debris, and the dried bones of pigs. The perfect world has given way to anarchy and savagery, resulting in death.