Conceptual Scenic Design- Tom Kelly
Visible cities is a play with two very different worlds but both hold the same themes and lessons. one of the biggest concepts or lessons my group and I discussed was the concept of layers. the levers of deep rooted problems in the fashion industry, the ill treatment of workers, and the covering up of mistakes and wrong doings of all those involved.
The audience would be placed in a adjusted runway setting on either side of the action. Since the story takes place in Asia I took a lot of inspiration from asian traditions and architecture to illustrate these layers in the set. the central layer is to show the history and uncontrollable problem of racist conflicts, and the divide between the manufacture and the worker. I chose to show this layer as a organic bamboo structure resembling the early structures of Singapore and shanghai. There are also fabric pieces stretched out over certain parts showing attempts at mending/covering these issues, these also act as projection surfaces. The out most layer represents the relationship of all three factors of the clothing industry- the manufacture, the worker, and the Ill-informed consumer. The steel structure keeps these problems(the deep rooted ones) contained but as the play progresses and shares more, the wooden structure leaks out forming a rough runway and the steel structure opens up. The floor plan at the end forms the islands of Singapore/ a runway that the characters can climb on.
However throughout the play the characters are able to move these small platforms around to create the distinct places of both Jessica's world and Bianca’s world. transparent fabric would also be stretched around these poles after they are moved to form rooms, walls, and whatever else is needed thus creating a very fluid space. Discussion still needs to be made but as of right now Bianca’s world would have back light on the structure showing the red/yellow chaotic bamboo structure underneath whereas Jessica’s world would be blue/purple front light and show the fabric and steel structures of the real world hiding these problems.
Additionally shadow puppetry would also be used throughout the play making an entirely different world out of shadows. For example there is a volcano in Bianca’s world. To create this a group of movable islands, mentioned before, would be set up in a rough row so that when a light, shined from the base of the main structure, was shot toward them their shadows would combine to create the silhouette of the volcano on the adjacent wall. An actor would then use fabric or a colored gel to create fire or lava around the shadow.