In a play like this, it is important not to limit how the audience perceives the characters. Gregory Ramos, the director, and I wanted the audience to look at the space, art work, photographs and books as a part of this family's life as a group not individuals. Where have they been? What is their taste/style? The style is very eclectic and that is deliberate. We wanted to show how their individual personalities have melded to become their statement family.
Did any aspect of the set change from your original plans?
Many things shifted in the process but the final product is very close to my original idea after speaking with the director.
What is your favorite piece of the Mothers and Sons set, and why?
That's a tough one. I don't think I have a favorite piece because it's how it all works together and how it developed over time. The painting over the fireplace is on loan from a gallery in Middlebury and the large poster in the hall is from my husband's office. The chairs and ottoman were purchased but the sofa is from the theatre department. It's not how anything in particular affects the audience, it's how the combination of colors, textures and scale speaks to the characters.
What questions did you ask yourself early on when designing a set?
Because I lived in New York City for about 10 years, I had a strong idea of how this room might work. The biggest question we all had to ask ourselves was where are the windows. The windows had to overlook Central Park but where did it make the most sense for Bud when he talks about Spiderman. When you put a window in a room it impacts the entire use of the space. It's like putting a sofa or bed in a room. Once that happens, it impacts where everything else will go.
How do you know at the end if the design is successful?
When the actors feel as though the space gives their characters "a home" then we have a successful design. The set is as much a character of the show as the actors with lines. The set must ease the audience into the play, compliment the playwright's intent and allow the actors to move freely and with comfort. Like their character, the actor must own the space they are working in. For characters like Katharine, it needs to make a statement not to her liking.