What is in this article?:
- A Conversation With Pippin Scenic Designer Scott Pask
- Incorporating The Circus And Performance Troupe
- Taking Pippin To The Music Box
- Making The Tent
Incorporating The Circus And Performance Troupe
LD: Talk about how your scenic design incorporates the circus and the performance troupe.
Pask: An important part of the set is based on the traditional entrance chutes of the circus. It’s a pavilion of sorts, where, at the top of the circus, parades would originate, acts would originate. The circus band could potentially be up there. That’s how the ringmaster enters the ring for the first time. We transformed it into a magic box that’s constantly erupting with something else. Now with people: here it’s a trick that’s coming out of it; next it’s furniture coming out. All of a sudden, it becomes contextual where it’s the home for Pippin in Act II, where he finds a respite and retreat from the kind of chaos that he had been going through in Act I or the center throne emerges from it; it’s a magic box.
All these scenic pieces work together to support that idea of us seducing you into the ‘join us’ part of that song; and that means everything to us as a team. The idea of running off to join the circus is such an important part of this production. I think that even in the end how our young actor is drawn back onstage, kind of looking around the stage in his wonderment; it really pushes that point to a place where it’s almost visceral. He really didn’t want to leave and he wants to be a part of it while it’s supporting the story at the same time. So Theo is hanging in the air with a smile spinning around in this mischievousness with the company all around him. From start to finish, that circus convention is so amazing.
LD: Talk about your work with the circus company on development of your ideas as well as dealing with their practical needs.
Pask: It was such a close collaboration, and it was a very supportive one. When we talked about certain numbers—Gypsy is very creative—she and Diane working together are kind of brilliant, and they really supported what the shows’ needs were, brainstorming ideas with us. Then we put those ideas to the riggers, asking, "Can we do this? What can we not do? And how can I make that finish look like this?" It was a lot of back and forth with everyone and was very collaborative.
Much of the circus content on the show is ground-based. We worked a lot with them making sure that they have what they need for safety and then how it fits into the context of the show. "If this number is a ring number, what is the world he is walking into? This sort of lush place that we are escaping to after war and glory, what is that in the circus world?" It became a world of hoops and pageant banners. The hoop number becomes another part of that and then the ball number in “No Time at All.” The acrobatic troupe is there to sort of bring us the whimsy and playfulness of the countryside.