The former glory of Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport is alive and well on the stage of the American Airlines Theatre for the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Arthur Miller's After the Fall. The modular furniture, the terrazzo flooring, and the arched backdrops that mimic the icon's sweeping ceiling were created by Richard Hoover who went through several models in order to achieve the right design. “I wanted people to recognize it for what it was, and then forget about it for the other parts of the play that don't take place at the airport,” he says.
When he first read the play, Hoover envisioned it as an internal play where the main character is basically having a conversation with himself, so he tried to make the set interesting and relevant to the protagonist's emotional journey. Once he decided on the terminal setting, Hoover went through a “multitude of models, but when we found the perfect one, we couldn't afford it.”
The ceiling of the set was integral to the production as it also served as a canvas for Elaine McCarthy's projections, the most striking of which was a silhouette of a concentration camp. Moss Inc. in Belfast, Maine, fabricated the terminal's soaring ceiling using silver-gray Lycra. Hoover said he was terrified of it because he did not know enough about the material, but was pleasantly surprised to see that the finished set looked just like his model.
He added that the experience will help him take more risks in his future designs. “It's fun to reduce the limitations in your own thinking and not be afraid that everything doesn't have to be at a right angle,” he says. “I'm continuing to learn that.”