Skip to content

Claire Chrzan – The Water Station / Mizu No Eki


    Theatre is activism and this piece (though silent) screams: Will Anything Ever Change?

    The world is a smoldering pile of ruins. The survivors of a cataclysm walk with few possessions, shocked into silence, carrying their trauma. The Water Station is a non-verbal depiction of travelers encountering the miraculous gift of flowing water along an otherwise desolate path. The piece is meditative, an exploration of time and progression. It is also a marathon demanding extreme focus as each actor moves meticulously, painstakingly, in silence and slow tempo for the two hour piece. The primary lighting gesture and anchor of my design concept was a 20k fresnel emphasizing the diagonal of the path the actors walked. Beginning at a very low trim height and slowly, in direct conversation with the pace of performers, the light would almost imperceptibly begin its journey from the ground to the sky, emulating the rising sun, the life force. When characters first entered the space they were back lit, their faces inaccessible, a mystery to us as the viewers. It is only after enduring the time and effort of watching the actor move downstage to the water that the lighting reveals more of the character to the audience. We begin and end the continuous cycle of actors along the path with the same character, the girl. This completion of the cycle suggests we have only seen a glimpse of an unending pattern. Using the unique community of CalArts as an incubator to experiment it was important to the director and design team to create a landscape that supported the intense feeling of loss and the persistence to keep moving forward. The lighting was subtle to emphasize the relationship of the characters to the world; stuck, with a glimmer of hope that there is something better on the horizon. What moved me most about this story and inspired my design was universality in the theme; some viewers related it to the story to their experience of immigrating to the US, others had a less tangible memory but felt the experience of the characters endurance deeply within themselves. 

    Production Credits

    California Institute of the Arts: Walt Disney Modular Theatre

    Playwright – Ōta Shōgo
    Director – Héctor Alvarez
    Scene Design – Chusu Kim
    Lighting DesignClaire Chrzan
    Costume Design – Yuwei Hu
    Sound Design – Clare Marie Nemanich

    Assistant Scene Design – Benny Pitt
    Assistant Costume Design – Ashley Snyder
    Assistant Costume Design – Yi-Lun Chien
    Assistant Lighting Design – Matthew Duran

    Production Stage Manager – Carina Yuan
    Stage Manager – House Dow
    Stage Manager – Sami Hansen

    Tech Director – Naomi Miyahara
    Tech Director – Ethan Geisness
    Props Artisan – Patrick Smith

    Actors featured in Photos

    Brent Charles
    Emma Crawfis
    Henry Fulton Winship
    Ava Hase
    Hugh Hedley Lewis
    Devin Alan McLean
    Carter Avery Prentiss
    ChaCha Tahng
    Lily Rutman
    Sofia Rahaniotis
    Jeannette Srinivasan