Designer Notes: A Christmas Carol 2019
Ever wonder why the set for A Christmas Carol looks the way it does? Or how our lighting designer works with all that bright, white snow? Or what inspired the new costume design? Read on for these answers and more from the designers behind this IRT tradition!
RUSSELL METHENY | SCENIC DESIGNER
It’s ironic, but as a scenic designer the thing I love most is great performances. I love creating an empty space in which great performances happen. That’s what this set is all about: an empty field of snow in which wonderful actors tell a wonderful story. When I see something on stage that is not what it is and looks like something else—that to me is great theatre. (an instrument invented—I think—for the movie Aliens); for Christmas Past, I used wind chimes: for Christmas Present, I experimented with harp strings; for Christmas Future, I played a cymbal with a violin bow, and dragged a chain inside a piano.
MICHAEL LINCOLN | LIGHTING DESIGNER
Well of course, the first thing is the snow. That enormous field of white offers a technical challenge to a lighting designer. It’s harder to create isolated lighting effects; everything just bounces all over the place. But I also have unique opportunities, such as creating silhouettes against the snow. In terms of design, the snow functions very much like a sky drop—it’s a blank canvas on which I can paint any color. This production does not rely on theatrical “effects.” It’s all about the magic created between the actors and the audience. There are always new discoveries to make in the snow. It’s an unnerving yet exhilarating process.
LINDA PISANO | COSTUME DESIGNER
This is a story that audiences know well. I re-read the novel to focus on character descriptions. Dickens’s work sheds light on issues of poverty, family, loneliness, and compassion. He writes about the industrial grime and soot of London in his day. The distressing of the costumes and the overall feel of the Cratchit family reflect these conditions. Class division is clear. Mrs. Cratchit is poor, getting fabric from the rag pickers of the streets. She is probably quite skilled in sewing and may even use pin tucks, embroidery, and other surprising details to liven up her family’s meager clothes. Our ghosts align closely with the descriptions in the novel. I also found great influence in John Leech’s original illustrations. The story presents a series of emotional experiences for Scrooge: Fezziwig’s party is a warm, jovial memory of the country, while Fred’s more urban and sophisticated party is something Scrooge has never attended. Both occasions hit home, demonstrating that for Scrooge to have a happier future, he must first deal with the issues and problems of his past and present.
ANDREW HOPSON | COMPOSER
The pipe organ has the distinction of being associated with three diverse concepts: religion, theatre, and phantoms. Using an organ as one of the main instruments in A Christmas Carol was an obvious choice. For ghostly sound effects, I ended up using four metal instruments: for Marley, I used a waterphone (an instrument invented—I think—for the movie Aliens); for Christmas Past, I used wind chimes: for Christmas Present, I experimented with harp strings; for Christmas Future, I played a cymbal with a violin bow, and dragged a chain inside a piano.
Come experience their work and art in person! A Christmas Carol runs through December 26 and tickets are available now!
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
Marketing Communications Manager
If you are interested in reviewing a production and would like to receive media passes, please email us.