Curious about what it was like designing the lighting, set, and costumes for our season closer, You Can’t Take It With You? Learn about what inspired the designers and what they considered when creating this madcap and classic production!
LINDA BUCHANAN | SCENIC DESIGNER
The characters in You Can’t Take It With You are the most eccentric and quirky bunch of bohemians you could ever imagine. At the same time, they are quintessential American characters: they are willing to try anything, and they believe deeply in personal freedom and their own ability to reinvent themselves. These people are true amateurs in the original meaning of the word: people who do things out of love and enjoyment. The design needs to create room for ballet dancing, playwriting, fireworks making, pamphlet printing, and all the other current and past interests of the inhabitants, contrasted against a conventional period home that they have adapted to accommodate their unusual relationships and their many pursuits. In this production, we also wanted to imbue the house with the warmth and nurture of Mr. Vanderhof’s deceased wife, the matriarch of the family. We tried to imagine how she would have decorated and what warm and comfortable touches she would have wanted to provide for her family. The design of a show can also really work to support the physical actions of a play. Certain events in this script call for specific architectural relationships for best comedic payoff. For example, and without giving anything away, a prominent front door, and a long cross from the kitchen door to the front door, are both very useful!
TRACY DORMAN | COSTUME DESIGNER
The play is set in Manhattan in 1936 at the height of the Depression. We chose to keep it in the time period because, although the themes and relationships are universal, much of the language and situations in the play are rooted in its time. This play is filled with characters with a capital C, and we’ve tried to find ways to express their eccentricities without stereotyping them. I’ve approached the designs of the costumes with a “heightened whimsy,” using color, pattern, and silhouette to create a sense of the playfulness of this world the family has created in their home. So while the costumes evoke the period in their detail and silhouette, I’ve taken liberties so that they exist in their own world of the play—they are by no means naturalistic. There are so many characters to keep track of that one of the main goals is to create a strong visual identity for each one, which is actually quite easy as they are written so well: the playwrights give us so much info about who each character is.
MICHAEL LINCOLN | LIGHTING DESIGNER
My very first design for IRT was The Man Who Came to Dinner in 1984, so encountering this play by the same playwrights 35 years later gives me an instant sense of nostalgia for the play and for my long association with IRT. You Can’t Take It With You is a play about family, home, and acceptance. While there has never been a time in our lives when such values were more sorely needed, the play itself (as is true of many antiques from the 1930s) may seem a bit dated and worn at first glance. In this production, we have tried to remain true to its original spirit while looking at it with fresh eyes. Like the 1927 Indiana Theatre, home to the IRT since 1980 and a family home to so many of us theatre artists, the play has been lovingly polished and cared for to restore its original gleam, so that we all can appreciate its core value: acceptance.
Don't miss your chance to see these wonderful design elements in person! You Can't Take It With You runs through May 19, and tickets are selling fast!
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