Rose Brand Know-How Blog

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How Scenic Designer Akiko Nishijima Rotch used Kaos to depict the steamy Mississippi Delta and character dynamic in her set design for “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.”

Post: The following is an edited version of our interview with Akiko Nishijima Rotch, Set Designer, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” playing at both the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau and the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage.

Rose Brand: What was your overall design objective for the production?

Rotch: The play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” By Tennessee Williams takes place in the Mississippi Delta area, which has a very hot & sticky environment.  The hot weather affects the characters of this play a lot. The biggest challenge I faced as the set designer was how to create a hot & humid atmosphere in a theatre in Alaska.  

When I researched the environment of Mississippi, I saw a lot of images of Spanish moss. I felt that those images quickly communicated the feeling of the South, and so Spanish moss became my design motif.

Another important point of the set design was to communicate that characters have no privacy in their home. For example, Mae is always trying to eavesdrop on what Maggie and Brick are saying. Since this is an important aspect of the play, I wanted the set to visually express it.

Rose Brand: How did you achieve your design objectives?

Rotch: I started to look for a material that had both translucency (a metaphor for no privacy) and an organic shape (a metaphor for the Spanish moss).  Scrim and gauze did not have enough of an organic shape for me.  Then I discovered the samples of “Kaos” material among the Rose Brand samples I’ve been receiving since I graduated from NYU in 2007.

Kaos was the exact texture I was looking for.  The gaps in the material are uneven and Kaos is also paintable.  The uneven gaps allowed us to express the organic shape of Spanish moss. The ease of painting allowed us to create the depth of colors we needed to complete the illusion of the moss.

We used the mossy painted, black, Kaos Medium material to represent the walls of the house in an unrealistic way.  As I mentioned before, eavesdropping (and peeping) were important factors to communicate.  Being able to see and hear through the walls gave the audience the sense that there was zero privacy in this space.

Rose Brand: How else might you use Kaos for future design efforts?

Rotch: A scrim effect with an organic shaped material is pretty hard to find, so I will experiment with it when I need the texture. I am also curious about Kaos Heavy next time.  I would love to see the difference between Medium, which I used, and Heavy. I strongly recommend “Kaos” to create layers of magical space.

How Donyale Werle, Tony Award-winning Scenic Designer, Uses The Rose Brand Discount Store

Broadway Scenic Designer, Donyale Werle (Peter and The Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), uses the Rose Brand Discount Store extensively. "I usually look there first when selecting fabrics and curtains for my productions. In fact, I'll often change my design to accommodate what's currently available."

Since the Discount Store inventory consists of a lot of one-of-a-kind items that can turn over quickly, Ms. Werle often specifies two or three options for any given item that she needs. This helps her mitigate the impact of a two-week lag between the time she specifies products for purchase and the time they’re actually acquired. Usually at least one of the specified items is still for sale at the end of that two-week period.

Ms. Werle is a huge proponent of sustainability. She much prefers to use an item out of the Discount Store, previously sewn for another engagement, than to order something new.  This works for her on two levels, in terms of both reuse and saving money. Often the dollars saved will go towards the purchase of other sustainable items, which can sometimes be more costly upfront than non-sustainable goods.

Product: Red Velour swagged legs and border and a Muslin drop painted by Showman Fabricators
Peter and the Starcatcher- Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Director: Roger Rees, Alex Timbers
Costume Designer: Paloma Young
Lighting Designer: Jeff Croiter
Set Design: Showman Fabricators
Design: Donyale Werle

Ominous Cotton Scrim Scenic Design Installation Using Projection & Lighting Techniques

Designer Ivy Flores created this gorgeous installation with the ominous title, “A Scenic View of the End of the World.” The installation consisted of hanging strips of cotton scrim arranged within a cave-like structure so that viewers could walk into the center of the space and look outwards. Four projectors lit the fabric strips by beaming a panoramic animation outwards from the center of the space. The effect was ethereal. 

Cotton scrim is commonly used in theaters, special events and other interior settings for quick economical swags and billows that are light as a feather.  Ivy selected this ultra-fine gauzy fabric so that light would pass through the material with minimal effect on the layer behind it.  soft and durable qualities made it perfect for an exhibit that users were encouraged to walk through, touch and move. 

View more images of designer Ivy Flores’s installation in our portfolio.  Watch the video of the experience by clicking the link below. 

A Scenic View of the End of the World

How Did YOU Do it?

Details

Starting immediately, Rose Brand is accepting entries into our blog article contest. The blog articles will feature YOU and the events and productions YOU have created. You may submit your entries by sending an email to blogcontest1@rosebrand.com or by posting it to our fan page on Facebook. (If you send us an email, we may post it to Facebook as well.) Only the winning entries will make it to the blog and receive a link from our homepage at RoseBrand.com. Winners will also receive a $50 Amazon.com gift card.

 

Rose Brand will judge the entries based on how interesting we believe they are for a blog post.  The number of winners is dependent on the quality of the entries and purely based on the discretion of our Rose Brand judges. You may win multiple times so keep posting! This contest ends April 25, 2011.