ONE IS WARMER IN WINTER,
THE OTHER HAS A BETTER VIEW
Platform Youth Theatre 2009
WRITER: Adam J A Cass (in collaboration with the cast)
DIRECTOR: Caitlin Dullard
SET & COSTUME DESIGNER: Tanja Beer
ASSISTANT SET DESIGNERS: Wenying Yao, Ella McDonald, Nyssa Johnson, Sophie Neate
LIGHTING DESIGN: Geoff Adams
PHOTOGRAPHY: Sophie Neate
Through workshops with writer Adam J A Cass and director Caitlin Dullard, the company's aim was to develop a poetic, open and honest look at faith with young people from diverse backgrounds. An apple orchard becomes the backdrop for this allegorical play: Are the apples simply a delicious treat? Perhaps forbidden fruit? Or maybe just a hallucination? Fittingly, the audience interpretation depends on where they stand on matters of faith.
My design for "One is Warm in Winter and the Other Has a Better View" with Platform Youth Theatre was the first production that I went into with full support and enthusiasm from the company and creative team to create an environmentally responsible design. The design featured an installation of over 700 apples, the majority of which were suspended from the ceiling. The apples were sourced from local farmers and were donated to the Collingwood Children's Farm after the season ended. Care was taken to avoid the use of glues or toxic substances in the hanging and preservation of the apples; instead apples were strung with fishing line attached to screws that held the apples securely in place. These screws were later taken out for future use and the fishing line could also be recycled. As part of this process, I strung apples up in my kitchen to study how well the apples could last naturally over a period of two weeks (which was the entire length of the show's season). As a result of the experiment, we observed that the apples lasted longer than two weeks without the use of toxic glues and chemicals and were perfect for our production timeline.
Ms Beer's brilliant set was not only startling in its conceptual simplicity, but it managed to serve the demanding production at every point: from the early clarity of its quintessential reference to The Bible's 'Eve' to its later almost hallucinatory transformation into the vast and deadly 'Poisonous Point' – traversed by the ensemble in a journey of biblical proportions.
Stage Whispers 2009
Using the full open space of fortyfivedownstairs, Tanja Beer's design of apples creates an endless space that flows with the magic realism of the script and its combination of fresh, bruised and rotting fruit parallels the script, while creating an imagery of its own – and uses the space perfectly.
Designer Tanja Beer transforms the vast space at fortyfivedownstairs into another Eden. There are apples everywhere: on the windowsills and wooden floorboards, dangling in clumps from the ceiling. The fruit comes to symbolise the mysterious, personal nature of religious and spiritual conviction.
As the audience assembles into the space, the large unshuttered windows let in the hazy light of dusk. This expectant, being on the verge of something, sets a lovely tone for what's to come. The space has been stripped back, stripped bare, opened up and filled with apples. Apples sit on windowsills, crates of apples are on the ground, spilling onto the floor, apples hang from the rafters in clusters, or alone. The space is visually arresting, but doesn't set you into a state of repose, it rather sets up a feeling of possibility.