How To Design A New Play

by on October 12, 2018

See more posts about: Blog, Professional Training Company

The Professional Training Company’s Solo Mios allow young artists to challenge themselves as designers as they collaborate on new work.

How To Design A New Play

The Professional Training Company’s Solo Mios are an opportunity for acting apprentices to explore their abilities as artists who create their own pieces. They collaborate with a director and a dramaturg to develop an eight-minute-long solo performance. Traditionally, the end product looks fairly minimal. There are no sets or elaborate technical elements. However, this apparent simplicity comes from a lot of hard work and creativity from a team of young designers.

After the actor writes their Solo Mio, the designers go through the script to determine what the piece needs. This could be a sound cue or a particular hat or the need to convey to the audience that they’re in an elevator. Costume Designer Jessica Land describes that initial read: “Things I focus on include time, place, tone and characterization, all of which inform what costume I think would fit best for the piece.” The needs of the plays may be very specific requests from the artistic team or they may be more open-ended challenges, allowing the designers to get creative.

Of course, there are plenty of constraints the designers face. Light Designer Seth Torres starts his process with the script itself. “After that, I start to think about what is feasible in the room,” he says. It’s a busy fall at Actors Theatre, and all three of the performance spaces are active with different productions. This means that the Solo Mios have to fit into what’s already happening on those stages. Torres, however, enjoys this challenge. “Being able to make interesting looks for a show wildly different than what the lights were designed for can be challenging but is also part of the fun!”

“It’s the chance to spread my design wings.”

– Cheyenne Zuck

There’s plenty to keep these apprentices on their toes, however. “One challenge is the short timespan we have to produce the shows. In the course of two weeks I come up with six or seven different concepts, pull from stock, have fittings, and complete alterations,” Land explains. “Also, the extremely small budget makes me be very resourceful.”

Throughout the entire process, these designers must work closely with one another. Sound Designer Cheyenne Zuck and Torres, in particular, must collaborate. “We were on the same page from the beginning in pieces that needed sound and lights to go together,” Zuck describes. Additionally, the designers stay in close contact with the rest of the artistic team. “I am there to service the character, so I need to hear who the actor, director and dramaturg think the character is,” Land says. “These plays transform so much that I need to constantly check in to make sure that our visions still align.”

“The challenge of each piece is inherent to the world the actor creates,” Zuck concludes. “Some of them are dramatic and others are historical, but each is personal, and I’m excited to make these pieces come to life in a different way.”

This fall, the Professional Training Company performs three rounds of Solo Mios, beginning October 20. Tickets are free but require a reservation. Learn more about the Solo Mio Round Two and reserve your free ticket.

Actors Theater of Louisville
316 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Box Office: 502.584.1205
502.371.0956 TDD

Share Your Thoughts