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
Taking Pippin To The Music Box
LD: Tell us about bringing the show to the Music Box Theatre?
Pask: The Music Box is a much smaller space than we were dealing with at ART, but the benefit of it was that the audience would be that much closer; the tent would be that much more encompassing. Here we had the opportunity to kind of wrap our vocabulary around the audience and use the front of the stage and the balcony boxes and even the mezzanine to bring our vocabulary of the time-worn circus, the patinas into the house.
I always knew that I was going to be very excited about how, in the end, it worked here. In Boston, the reveal was sort of landscape, but in New York, the audience relationship to the stage is different. At ART, where you are looking down on the stage, here you’re really looking up. So, for that to be really impressive, the tent had to rise up at the end as far as it possibly could. We did reconceive the rigging system for New York so that the tent could fully reach the potential of nearly being out of sight when it’s struck at the end of the show. In doing that, it revealed all of the props, and the scenery held in stasis, and you saw the backstage world, which became another point of intrigue. It was a melding of the theatre and the temporariness of this play being put on inside of it. I just love how that relationship is balanced here.
I think the idea of scenery and the temporariness of it is something that we deal with all the time. As designers, we are creating these images that are sometimes fleeting, but we are seeking to create moments that are memorable. We are doing that in a number of ways through the facility of our tricks of the trade but also just the materials themselves. The thing that was inspiring to me about this was really using materials that, by their very nature, are compact and meant to be packed away--the idea that the whole tent could really fold up and be packed into a box, but yet it provided a kind of vast environment for the players. Working with some of those things and those ideas was exciting for me to play with and explore while thinking about always supporting the concept. I do love those moments when you kind of half create an environment, and some of the answers start to come quickly, in a way revealing themselves because, in this world we are creating, it could only be this or work this way. I enjoy that, sort of setting the rules, find the rules for this arena.
LD: What were some elements for this show that you are particularly pleased with?
Pask: I love the strength of the conceptual base for the show. Scenically, I love the vocabulary when we get to the hearth, all the graphic qualities of the three dimensional objects—the bed and the fireplace. That was a fun thing for me to explore and discover—Theo’s world and their home. It finds itself peppered throughout: the banners of Charlemagne’s throne room and the idea of this old engraved etchings that can speak to another era and are infused with this vocabulary. That in some situations might be in Catherine’s home; then in the circus, you can bring out these real elements—that let you relate to them as an audience member. In the circus, you can make outrageous and amplify the use of them. I think that was a lot of fun to explore.
More than anything, I am pleased with the environment itself and really playing with the overall impact of the shape of that space. The thing that people don’t really notice is that the perspective is incredibly severe. It swoops way up in order to create the impression of that shape and just the idea of looking up into the top of that tent. It has a much more embracing form than it would be if you had just done it kind of straight all the way across. That is one of those tricks that I think it is hard for people to even recognize. For me, achieving that subtly of that impression, creating something visceral, is always a thrill for me. It is the height and even the perspective of all the panels and the curve.