On the set of "Cheating Death"

by Jihyun Ro

For the past several weeks, I have been working as a set designer for The Immoralist, a one-act play written and directed by William Ryan ’14. The Immoralist, running Oct. 4-6 at the Adams Pool Theater,will be performed with another one-act play Stingers, written by Andy Boyd ’14, as part of a larger production called Cheating Death. Although the plotlines for the two plays differ in nature, the fact that they are sharing one set and much of the same furniture and props makes for a highly collaborative project between the cast and crew members. The Immoralist, which chronicles the diagnosis, treatment and ultimate recovery of a melanoma cancer patient, is the second of the two acts and lasts approximately 40 minutes.

This was my first time working in set design, let alone in theater, and I found myself extremely busy. Despite my initial lack of familiarity with building flats and obtaining furniture, the accessibility of the building shop at Farkas Hall and props warehouse at Loeb Drama Center, as well as the high level of teamwork between the cast and crew for both plays made my job very rewarding.

The step-by-step build up from the mixing of paint for the wall flats to the assembling of the set to the final dress rehearsal truly proves the hours and dedication that each member of the production puts into the final product. As for my job, I had the responsibility of creating the elements of the set that required building, such as the back wall and door, and also choosing (with the director) all of the furniture for the play.

This term, the Adams Pool Theater will run only student-written, student-directed plays, and the Cheating Death production is the first to take place in the space.

Working as a set designer gave me an opportunity to work with many members of the Harvard theater community who direct, produce, write and act in numerous on-campus productions throughout the year. On a more fundamental level, my experience in set design has made me realize that the visual elements of a performance heavily impact the tone and audience perception of the play, and thus the aesthetic specificity of a set is integral to the message that a play attempts to convey.

Stingers and The Immoralist will take place 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4-6 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Adams Pool Theater. To reserve free tickets, email cheatingdeath12@gmail.com.

[Caption: Actors Leonie Oostrom '15, Alice Berenson '16, and Ari Brenner '14 during a scene in "The Immoralist"]