Whenever I start a new project, there is the inevitable rush of excitement. Ideas rush forth faster than two Nova Scotian’s being told there’s only one Keiths left.
Controlling the adrenaline and making realistic choices is an art in itself. Improv teaches that your initial idea or response to an “offer,” in this case a vision of a successful project, is usually the best. So, I write those thoughts down so I can nurture them and allow them to grow or at least, draw on their impact. Remember, emotional responses fade first, ideas dissipate later too, but much slower. So commit them to paper so you can refer back after all the other parameters have been made clear. Limitations are also opportunities to create something new and exciting?
I next ascertain what I need versus what I want? What, if anything, do I need the set to tell about the story?
How will the size or grandeur of the set affect everything else? In this case, since I expect to tour this show to small venues, 2 or 3 a week, the entire show needs to fit into one van. That’s lights, set, props, audio and video, wardrobe, actor and production team. What could possibly go wrong?
I’m a big fan of minimalist sets. I like the acting and the story to be enough to hold the audience and to entertain them. For “The Incomplete History of Tom/ Canada” however, I am planning a different tact. I want to employ a 16x9 foot video screen upstage of me and have it add context, and/or commentary to what I am doing on stage. I have decided to never acknowledge what is going on in the video(s). Basically, I’m moving ‘the fourth wall” from between the audience and me, to behind me and to create a video storyline that only the audience is a part of.
The other major element of the set I’m keeping as a secret, suffice to say it is an homage to watching TV as a child in Canada.
A very influential designer from the Shaw once told me, “Always try and do something nobody has done before.” I remind myself of those words as often as possible.