RED RED SHOES | INITIAL STORY BOARD

My design for the touring production of Red Red Shoes is to be set on a traverse stage. I intend to focus the design around the concept of being inside ‘the head of a traumatised child’. I think that this is a significant theme within the play, one that could create something really interesting. For example, as the play is set inside a young child’s mind, it allows the design to be slightly more fantastical (a little bit off). As well as focusing on the mind of a child, I will also look at incorporating a medical feel into the design. This is due to the fact the story continuously flips back to sitting in hospital interacting with a doctor about what has happened to her.

For the opening scene I wanted it to feel relatively normal. The idea that you are within a normal child’s bedroom, but also leave questions there too. One of the key ideas within this scene is that I would like the costumes for the characters in the play to come from Franveras room; as if they were coming from her imagination. An example of this would be the red scarf hanging on her bed becoming Red Beard’s beard. As the actors put on their costume, they strip the bedroom a little barer, until it eventually becomes a stark medical space.

initial-begining

The next space that I have considered is the Drs office. Here the scene would be very stark, very medical. A singular hospital bed in centre stage with lit up medical screens at either end. The doctor as a character, I would like to appear as a shadow puppet; as someone who is excluded from her imagination. Also within this space a small medical table is brought on with a laptop.

I intend to attempt to solder some of these elements together when making my model box. I see them as all being plain silver and metal.

initial-dr-office

When Franvera is forced to leave the town by the soldiers, she enters the forest. To create the forest I want something more ambiguous than literally bringing on trees. So for this scene I have thought about using the bunting to give the illusion of a forest. I want the characters to be able to weave through the bunting as if it were hanging branches. A possible change that I would make to this scene is to make the bunting more autumnal colours, rather than bright red.

To aid the image of a forest I am also contemplating adding different things to put on the floor. These would be to create noises, for example crackles and snaps. This would help the children to imagine the forest even more.

initial-forest

Another strong image in this play is that of the Black Boots. These are the symbol of the soldiers, of Franvera being ripped from her home, Of her losing her father and ultimately of her death. I think that this is a really important image to get right.

I like the idea of the screens containing the boots, and then also the idea of the cast climbing through the screens with big boots on. The idea of the boots coming through the wall of screens also helps to portray the sense of the room being ‘edgeless’. This is another key theme mentioned within the play; The idea of reaching ‘the edge of the edgeless room’. This offers the idea of the containment of the surgery, and also the unstable elements of the young child’s mind.

Another idea I had for this scene was to utilise the bunting in another way. It would be an interesting image if the bunting were to clip to the screens, and then encircle the screens. I think this adds another layer of madness and being trapped.

initial-boots-image

The last space that I have considered is the refugee camp. Again I have considered using the bunting as a scenic element. I came up with the idea of creating a tent around Franvera with the bunting. Although I think this could become interesting aesthetically, I think that  practically it would create some issues.

initial-refugee-scene

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RED RED SHOES | THE BEGINNING

I made the decision to design a tour-able show for the play Red Red Shoes. The set, props, costumes and any technical equipment all have to fit into the back of a van, and be set up by the cast within an hour. We have been given a cast of 4-5 actors and 1 stage manager to create this show. This means that 8 characters and all of the cast roles have to be shared between a maximum of 5 actors.

A key thing about this project is that I really want to keep it as simple as possible. I want to focus on a key concept, and cleverly configure a design that portrays it. At the moment I am thinking of focusing the set design around the concept of the head of a traumatised child and also looking at the medical centre.

I like the idea of a traverse production that somehow includes the audience more than the average production. I am considering incorporating a way for the children to get involved by making noises that add to the scenes being set in the play. An idea that could be interesting is experimenting with a way to encourage the children to stamp their feet when Franvera begins to dance.

THE ASH GIRL | GRAPHIC COMIC STRIP

Another development exercise we all created a short graphic comic strip of a scene from The Ash Girl. This was an interesting task for me, as graphic is not my usual style. The exercise definitely got me to direct the play in more detail. It made me think about what the play is trying to say.

I chose Act 1 Scene 11; Who lives in the mirror? This scene is the scene we are introduced to the fairy in the mirror. It is a very long scene, and one of the most typical to the story of Cinderella. I chose to focus on the transformation of Ashie herself. I think that this is an interesting change, as it is all about her feelings toward herself and not just a change of clothes. She begins the scene believing she is ugly and worthless and ends it believing she is beautiful.

Another key part of this scene that I chose to include was a line that Otter says ;

‘Do you have any idea how dangerous fairies are? They’re always changing things, turning the world topsy-turvy. You’re going to change me into something, I can see it in your face.’

I like this quote as Otter is a friend to Ashie and he is almost warning her that she is beautiful the way she is, she doesn’t need the fairy to change anything about herself. She should believe in herself the way she really is.

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RED RED SHOES | SCULPTURE

As one of the development processes when exploring the play; Red Red Shoes, we were asked to create a sculpture. The idea being that each person within the class creates their own personal response to the play. The only brief we were given to this task was that it had to be a 3D piece, the rest was left to our imaginations.

The first thing I had to consider was; what was my response to the play? I think it is a very relevant topic in the world today. There are a lot of issues in todays society to do with refugees and racial discrimination. I think it is a topic that needs to be discussed with young people, one that they need to understand.

For my sculpture I decided to take a less literal path. I wanted to play on the setting of the play. Charles Way makes a reference to this ;

‘It would be truer to say, however that the play takes place in the head of a traumatised child’.

This stood out to me alongside another quote;

She covers her eyes and waits

and waits, and when she opens them

the boots have gone to the edges 

of the edgeless room.’

Can a room really be edgeless?

Within the play it also states that the setting is a medical centre. All these quotes led me to think about creating a more abstract response to the location of the play.

My sculpture was made up of a sphere, painted to represent the edgeless room, and a ball of wire within, intended to represent the head of a traumatised child.

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YEAR 2| YOUNG PEOPLE’S THEATRE

After a long summer we are finally back to continue the course at Trent. This year we have a lost going on including the idea of going on a placement, alongside multiple design projects. This term we have been asked to consider children’s plays and how design can help to engage the children with the content.

The two specific plays that we are looking at are; ‘Red Red Shoes’ by Charles Way, and ‘The Ash Girl’ by Timberlake Wertenbaker. The Idea being that we either create a speculative design scheme for either of the plays, or devise and perform a short version of Red Red shoes to local school children.

Red Red Shoes:

This play is a take on ‘The Red Shoes’ by Hans Christian Anderson. The play tells a story of a young girl named Franvera, who lives to dance. On her birthday she is given a pair of red dancing shoes to aid her dream of dancing for her country. she is unaware of the turmoil that is to unfold around her. Her village is to be ransacked and anyone who was not born in the country was to be forced out. The women, children and elderly marched across the border as the men where killed within. Franvera escapes, but is left by her mother who goes back after her father. She crosses the border with other townsfolk to face more issues.

It is important to note that the play is designed to be unfolding within Franveras mind. It is disjointed and imaginitive.

The story is one of ethnic cleansing and refugees that occur so much in our society, however Way has managed to turn it into a fairy tale; arguably making it more accessible to a younger audience.

The Ash Girl:

This play is based around the famous fairytale; ‘Cinderella. Ash Girl is the main character who lives with her step mother and two step sisters. Unlike the tale of ‘Cinderella’ Ash Girl’s step mother is not a nasty one, she does not make Ash Girl stay home from the ball or spend all her time cleaning; Ash Girl decides to do this for herself.

Within this story The Prince is Indian, and has just moved to this cold foreign land to escape the turmoil of his own. The Princes mother then holds a ball to find Prince Amir a wife, and route him to this new country. The story unfolds much like Cinderella with Ash Girls step family attending, and the fairy paying a visit. Ash Girl attends and dances, leaves her shoe etc. Much like the Grimms tale the Step Mother mutilates her daughters feet to make them fit the shoe. Amir sees through this, finds Ash Girl and the story finishes with them together.

One of the main differences between ‘Ash Girl’ and ‘Cinderella’ is that Ash Girl is more about self discovery. The fairy in the mirror cannot help Ash Girl without her defeating sadness and believing that she is pretty etc. Timberlake has also incorporated the idea of the 7 deadly sins into the play, through the parts of woodland animals, this explores the idea that we all have demons that we need to defeat in order to be happy and grounded.