This design is RARE because it allowed us to examine how power structures affect the lower class during times of national disasters. As we saw during COVID-19, those not in power or simply without resources are usually on the front lines of suffering while those in power tend to mishandle such situations. This production was our activism calling attention to the issues faced by the oppressed classes in our society.
Oedipus: The King was staged months before the mandatory lockdown due to COVID-19. Our approach to this adaptation was to focus on the plague affecting the town of Thebes. While studying the text, we found themes such as death, sickness, climate, revelation, and societal collapse. We investigated this major pandemic mainly affecting the lower working class while the seemingly unaffected upper class mismanages the epidemic. The scenic design explored a wealth of independent gestures to carve out the space. I set the goal for myself to use the design as a mechanism through which we explored the themes surrounding the plague and society’s collapse due to the governing system’s response.
We used the operatic backdrop to showcase the plague’s lack of effect on the upper class. The backdrop flying out suggests the thin facade between the upper and lower class, mainly experiencing the impact of the pandemic. The coffins were a physical representation of the sickness and death caused by the plague. Revelation was a continuous theme of exploration in this piece. The scrim falling was a moment that revealed the separation between what Oedipus wants to believe about his role in the pandemic and what is true. We incorporated a gesture of “the sun,” continuously mentioned in the text, through the mechanical iris to symbolize Apollo’s presence in the space and explore the themes of climate. The hydraulic X rising from the stage highlighted society’s collapse due to the mismanagement of the pandemic. The gesture of the backdrop flying in demonstrates society’s return to normal after the plague is over. However, the backdrop doesn’t fly back in entirely because we will forever see the effects in society.
Walt Disney Modular Theater
Playwright – Sophocles
Director – Jesse Bonnell
Scenic Design – Fallon Williams
Costume Design – Zhen Zhen Zhong
Lighting Design – Christian V. Mejia
Sound Design – Scott Goldfarb
Tech Director – Kevin Brown
Scenic Artist – Rachel Armour