How to fit the multiverse in the back of a car

Space is so important to the realisation of a set design, after all the space is what the set is aiming to define. When I first designed the set for Constellations I had the beautiful vastness and well equipped Black Box at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television in my head. It’s a space I know well and have a strong bond with.

In other words, it’s where I figured out set design is pretty cool and I don’t totally suck at it.

I obviously knew we would be taking Constellations on the road eventually and so it should probably be able to fit in the back of a car. But… I wanted to pull out all the stops for our TFTV run, after all it would probably be one of our last in that incredible space. As my dad always says, enjoy the journey. In this instance I took that to mean let future Megan deal with it.

In retrospect, large and fragile networks of cardboard hexagons weren’t the best option for portability. They are, however, proving pretty adaptable for use in different spaces. We can hang as many or as little as we need to define large and small spaces alike. Our shiny new tour friendly floor is also quite genius, if I do say so myself. It’s just lots of interlocking foam tiles, painted, glazed and cut to make three hexagon playing spaces that come apart and go together in a matter of minutes. They function much like the floor in the original design, but without the heavy, clunky and expensive decking and wood cladding (which has been lovingly repurposed as Hannah’s starry headboard.) Surprisingly, it is all working out pretty well. Each venue enjoys a new reincarnation of the original design that suits its shape, size and architectural limitations.

We are also getting really good at get in’s, which is so so good when you are on tour. Having time to eat cake and fish and chips before a show rather than running around, getting the bare minimum done before the auditorium opens really helps me feel like I’ve got my life together. I can then smuggly op the show rather than try to shake quietly enough in the tech box that the audience don’t know I am a hurricane of stress and fear. We are even better at get out’s which means I always make it home by bedtime. Bedtime is one of my favourite things.

One thing I have found hard is not having everything perfect for each show. The set is, inevitably, showing signs of wear and tear when nothing less than pristine is acceptable in my eyes. The limitations of each space mean I can’t always have the hexagons hanging exactly where I would want or lit up with lots of moody sunset colours. Everyone that knows me will tell you, I am not the best person to be around when I don’t get what I want (perfect set, pretty lighting… snacks.) It’s just not a nice feeling when something you spent so much time and energy on isn’t exactly how you wanted it to be.

It has however, taught me an awful lot. Different isn’t worse. Set and lighting is wonderful and beautiful as well as functional, but it really only enhances the play. I hate to admit it but my additions aren’t essential to the success of this wonderfully funny, tear summoning love story. Constellations was a knock out in a seminar room in broad daylight and is still stunning each and every time I have the honour of watching it.

I’m incredibly proud of what each talented, driven and patient Squabbler has achieved in all the new and different spaces we have encountered so far. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it makes me feel like we could conquer anything and hopeful that we will.


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