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Rodrigo Escalante – The African Company Presents Richard III


    Emerging from the pandemic made me reconsider as a designer, why do we do theatre? There is a vast amount of media out there; television and film specifically, and it became necessary to give the audience a reason to leave their house. When approaching this design it was important to create a stage that felt like a stage,that agreed with the audience, this is a space for performance, and in a play that provides natural circumstances, go above that, touch in the surreal, ultimately create a larger than life event. The pandemic really made me think of giving a reason to leave the comfort of our couch.

    The pandemic was also a time to reflect in our realities, the injustices of our system, the way the American Theatre has been run, and this play sheds light in that. This piece acknowledges history, its about the African Grove, the first black theatre to put on a Shakespeare play and what their members went through , it happened here in America, and it became all about the parallels between what we’ve been reflecting on and what happened 200 years ago. It’s a play about systemic power and how with the flick of a wrist an entire company was shut down, just for creating art that was different.

    In my design I also focused in showcasing what it was like to create theatre when you feel like you are set to fail, something as an immigrant I have experienced, the main piece of the design was a burlap quilt that represented what it’s like to make something out of nothing. And it also provided a reminder that this was happening at the time of slavery in America. This was also a production that had to play in rep with other two very different shows and at a theatre that was trying to rebuild what they had lost in the pandemic, such that I was asked to use minimal scenery, and I had to use resources that were inexpensive, like burlap and even used projections with a slide projector

    Production Credits

    Great River Shakespeare Festival

    Playwright – Carlyle Brown

    Director – Corey Allen

    Scene Design – Rodrigo Escalante
    Lighting Design – Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz
    Costume Design – Harri Horsley
    Sound Design – Nathanael Brown

    Assistant Lighting Design – Jacqueline Malenke

    Production Stage Manager – Tenley Pitonzo
    Stage Manager – Abbi Hess

    Scenic Artist – Rachel Seabaugh

    Actors featured in Photos

    Adeyinka Adebola
    Teri Brown
    Ashley Bowen
    Raffeal Sears
    William Sturdivant
    Doug Scholz-Carlson
    Benjamin Boucvalt