Scenic Design for VODKA VARIATIONS

             Vodka Variations is a collection of Chekovian short stories, which have been dramatized and strung together into a two act play.  In my early discussions with the director, we discussed how realistic all of these characters are, and how real their problems are, and yet they are stuck in this endless back and forth with no forseeable compromise or happy ending.  So much of the comedy stems from the stubbornness of these charactes, and the endless circular arguments that they get in with one another.  I found myself drawn to the idea of spirals and circles, which fit seamlessly in the Caplin Theater, but also allow for this comic, almost cartoonish movement throughout the space.  There is no escape, and each path away from each other leads you right back to the beginning, which assisted witht he fluidity of movement that the director was so interested in. 

            The color palette was chosen in an attempt to get away from our initial assumptions about Russia- that it is simply dark and dreary and severe in a Russian Winter.  As a design team, we all had to purposefully remove ourselves from that way of thinking.  The script was full of such amusing, bubbly, energetic characters, and the set had to reflect that life.  The colors mimic the brighter exteriors of turn of the century russian architecture and detail work you could find around windows and doors.

            Our director was very focused on fluid movement and creating stunning transitions, including choreographed set dressing changes, and traditional dances during shifts.  To create the interludes, as well as some ambient music during scenes, a string quartet was hired, which presented the challenge of where to place them.  After many iterations of sketches. I chose to put the quartet in the center of everything.  They would be playing for more than half the show, and they were available for the actors to interact with, and add to the comedic atmosphere , because they were so fully integrated.

               In order to make the scenes more episodic, I also chose to create a set of three tracked panels behind the main unit.  The panels were covered in an elaborate damask fabric to mimic the wallpaper popular in turn of the century Russian houses.  The panels would shift into a new position between every scene, to frame the space, and indicate a new scene’s beginning.

Caplin Theater
Presented by UVa Drama, Spring 2015
Directed by Marianne Kubick      Technical Direction by Mark Molchany      Lighting Design by Fabian Garcia      Costume Design by Kaitlin Sikes      Production Photos by Michael Bailey