Masters Project, Vienna, Austria, 2000.
COMPOSER: Benjamin Britten
DIRECTOR: Reto Nickler, Andreas Leisner, Konstanze Theimer
SET DESIGNER: Tanja Beer
COSTUME DESIGNER: Isobella Toccafondi
Performed at The Octagon Theatre,
Vienna, Austria 2000
Seen through the eyes of the Opera’s protagonist, Albert Herring, the set design takes on a highly stylistic quality that suits the operatic form. The aim of the design was to bring out the deeper underlying meaning of the Opera for the Audience. Essentially, Britten’s work was based upon a Coming of Age story by Guy de Maupassant and was first performed in 1947 in Sussex, England where Britten saw the first signs of the emerging 50’s youth movement break through the constraints of a conservative society.
The design follows Albert’s journey as he breaks through the boundaries set up by the puritan authorities to discover life on the other side. Much of the design’s inspiration was taken from the 1998 film, Pleasantville, where colour is slowly revealed to a black and white monochromatic world, having a chaotic effect on the town. This “colour” versus “black and white” idea was also extended into geometric forms for Albert Herring where the circular world was set up to challenge the square world.
Similarly, the changing of the Audience seating in Act 2 opened up and extended the use of the theatre space, bringing the Audience into Albert’s ever changing world. Complete with movable elements, a gigantic peach pot, fire effects and aluminium trees bearing real fruit, this stage design became “alive” as an interactive world for both the actors and the audience.
This design, created as part of my Masters in Stage Design from The University for Music and Dramatic Arts, Graz, Austria, was awarded with First Class Honours.