A Sinking Feeling: Scenic Design for Joe Tracz's Phenomena of Decline
Sabourin, Michael P.
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Sometimes an opportunity appears in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. As I approached my senior year here at Kalamazoo College, one such opportunity came into focus. I am primarily a student of design. From the time I declared a theatre major, I had my eye out for a production to design for my senior individualized project (SIP). While I was looking, a young playwright, Joe Tracz, was refining one of the most promising scripts ever produced by a student at this college. When Phenomena of Decline was invited to full production at the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) in lllinois, Kalamazoo College's Festival Playhouse quickly scheduled it for full production as well. This was the project I had been looking for. This production of Phenomena of Decline was unique in several ways. First, it required a set that was small and lightweight enough to be moved by the cast and crew in a limited time frame. Second, The textual challenges of Tracz's script call for solutions that are both practical and visually poignant. Lastly, as a one-act staged away from the main stage theatre, Phenomena worked on a relatively small budget in a relatively short time frame. By fully embracing the inherent physical metaphor of the script, I was able to use scenery to clarify the plot and the characters. The challenges of this scenic design and the overarching concept combined into a dynamic, versatile setting for Phenomena of Decline.
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