In most instances, when a show is named from a character I rebel against the character to raise theatrical stake. Hamlet, don't know him. I look toward the unnamed characters for who this is truly about - who has the greatest affect on the narrative would also have the greatest effect on terraforming the world. I quickly locked on to Katherine, and had to question: who was she, and if this play is a cycle story, how is her act of defiance of the Leading Player set to change the course of history?
Pippin! is a design about the crown and the hot air balloon dream of adventurers - power and knowledge. Where does our dream lift us before being shorn by politics from the ground below. The narrative drive is a crown in three sizes - a small toy metal crown for a child, a large firepit crown to immolate ambition, and finally a crown the size of a proscenium. The ego that grounded someone finally flying free.
A recurring image of balloon on a string, also in three sizes echos through the work as Katherine's story is woven from the beginning. The audience realizing, maybe too late, we are looking at her wreckage of a hot air balloon on its side. This performance, engorging itself on her personal tragedy. After all, you must give all of yourself to the art of acting (so believes the Leading Player.)
Part love song to the industry of theatre, part siren call of those who stand to gain the most from our sacrifice, each material was carefully selected for its metallic finish and wooden consumption. Metal when hot is malleable, when cooled rigid. Electricity is dangerous and follows the leading player. The performers must have autonomy at all times, for if any single person were to rebel against the Leading Player the show could end, and everyone could escape with their lives. In this way all elements of the scenery, including onstage follow spots are controlled by performer.
Harking to themes of circus, everything is a cage in its own way. Strong lines and negative space play a role. The ceiling will be brought in to the horizon making those downstage minimized by the large crown proscenium, those upstage, larger than life - impacting the world. In this the audience has a great deal of say with how the show may end.
Presented at St. Lawrence College, directed by Julie Tomaino, Set and Lighting Design by Joe Pagnan. Costume design by Alex Amini, Sound by John Shisko. Stage managed by Matthew MacInnis and Lisa Flannagan. Production managed by Tammy Perrin. Built by Sean Free, Joe Laxton, and painted by Tillie Morgan.