Conceptual Set and Costume Design
POWDER HER FACE
Opera by Thomas Andes. Directed by Ben Davies.
Concept: My design for 'Powder Her Face' was primarily inspired by the shapes of analogue recording material like films reels, vinyl records and old-style cameras. I explored the combination circles of reels, records and lenses and squares of camera frames and polaroid photographs.
The Opera is very much a voyeuristic insight into the private, and famously scandalous life of The Duchess of Argyll, and I wanted to increase the feeling of watching in on a very private space. It is set entirely in a bedroom, where the scale is larger than usual to reflect the libretto's likening them to children in relation to the space and to increase the sense of their vulnerability within it. Steps made from hatboxes lead up to a raked bed, and 4 frames are flown to allow us to create the lens of a camera, honing in and zooming in, on certain actions, but also lining up to form the 4 polaroid photos that were so controversial. There is a ladder also leading to the bed from upstage, a pole to slide down, and trampolines hidden in boxes as I wanted the space to have endless possibilities for play. The crinkled floor is inspired by skin texture, and within this sits a revolve which allows us to suggest the passing of time through the 4 chosen time periods, and also echo the playing of vinyl recors. Each side of the bed represents a different phase of time and offers a different setting. The colours are inspired by skin and then shots of bold makeup and lipstick colours, with costumes showcasing the exuberant character of the Duchess and her love of extravagant hats!