Designing for Seesaw Theatre is a unique experience. Unlike most theatrical productions, it’s a devised show, so you aren’t working from a script. The purpose of the design elements isn’t to enhance the storytelling, but instead to create multisensory experiences. The audience is very literally immersed in the design elements, which means they must be just as beautiful and interesting from inches away as they would be from a stage.

Due to the multisensory basis of this kind of theatre, there are brand new considerations not present in any other form of theatre. While they must still be visually interesting, the designers must push themselves to consider new opportunities. How can the costumes become tactile? Can the set make interesting noises or be used musically? Can the lights be shone on or through this prop to make interesting shapes or designs with the shadows? How can the experience truly immerse the audience by engaging all of the senses at once?

Each show has a theme, which the entire production is devised from. Our first year the theme was underwater, so the performers were dressed as sea creatures with stuffed animal limbs, the playing space was a tent made of blue tulle with the lights shining through to recreate the feeling of light filtering through water, and the audience sat on beach towels when they weren’t playing with bubbles or running through water spray and being fanned to feel the ocean breeze. 

The next year, the theme was string, which allowed more room for interpretation – the performers wore costumes made of sweaters that had been cut up and patchworked back together, the set included a giant pegboard with images made of string, and the cast, audience guides, and audience all sang happy birthday to one of the audience guides while gathered around a birthday cake made of string. This year, the theme is games – stay tuned for the exciting experiences our team of experienced and inventive designers will bring to In the Game!

Cassie Bowers
Design Chair/Archivist

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