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Narelle Sissons – Halfway Bitches Go Straight To Heaven


    The NYT review captures the feeling of the actors, design and production very well:

    “Messy, noisy, overwhelming life rushes up and down the aisles of the Linda Gross Theater in Manhattan. It would be impossible, after all, for any single stage to contain the heaving humanity of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, which opened on Monday night. The private conflicts so vibrantly embodied here have a way of sloshing out of Narelle Sissons’s capacious, multi chambered set and flowing to the back of the theater. The many, many characters in this production, residents of a New York City shelter for homeless and abused women, are repeatedly asked to keep their business — their fights, their lovemaking, their drinking and drugging — off the streets and out of public view…”

    -Ben Brantley

    My scenic design fills the space in the same way that Stephen’s play comes right at you. The multi-sectional aspects of the play bring the world of the city into the theatre, showing the vulnerability of humanity at its most critical. Stephens plays are RARE, they capture our society in a way that is humorous and dangerous at the same time. I made sure the design kept up, and set the play in a cross-section of a huge NYC Upper West Side building. The walls are incomplete, allowing for vulnerability, asking the question; is the space closing in or falling away? Another RARE aspect of the design is my work with the actors, together we made artwork, self-portraits and puppets in character to fill the institutional walls. We spent a day in rehearsal making art and then through performed discussions examined Stephen’s characters as a group; Latino, Latinx, Black, White, LGBTQ and their relationships – moments and stories were funny and often heartbreaking. The characters emphasized their diversity in their art and the director, John and I encouraged everyone to dive into this work fully. Self-portraits and puppets were placed on the walls of the set, everything was revealed and fragile in contrast to the hugeness of space.

    Production Credits

    Atlantic Theatre – NYC

    Playwright – Stephen Adly Guirgis

    Director – John Ortiz

    Scene Design – Narelle Sissons
    Lighting Design
    – Mary Louise Geiger
    Costume Design – Alexis Forte
    Sound Design – Ilisheba Ittoop

    Production Stage Manager – Chris De Camillis

    Assistant Scene Design – Frank Blackmore
    Assistant Scene Design – Matthew Herman

    Props Artisan – Joshua Yocom

    Photographer – Ahron R. Foster and Monique Carboni