We had the pleasure of speaking with Zoe Roux about Tableau D’Hôte Theatre’s upcoming production, Encore. Roux is the costume and lighting designer on the piece. We spoke about her experience drawing inspiration, references she pulls from and about her career in design.
Quebec Drama Federation: Encore deals with incredible romance and the experience of longing. When working with such universal themes, how do you then design the costumes and lighting?
Zoe Roux: The themes of love and longing are largely explored by way of imagining the cycle of a relationship; scrutinizing the birth and death of those intangible sparks called love. The trajectory of the narrative uses repetition in a playful and sometimes gut wrenching way to explore the waxing and waning of romance. In effect, the relationship takes on a dreamy quality where the past and preset overlap. With this in mind, I focussed on how memories inform perspective, complicate human connections, and shift passionate bonds into painful and beautiful spurts of personal growth. The lighting has been designed to impress upon the scenes a hazy, distorted repetition of lighting motifs. The intent is for each iteration to pluck different heart strings each time they’re revisited. In this sense, the recursive motifs echo the narrative structure. The costumes, too, have sprung from a world not bound in time but rather in memory.
QDF: Right now are there any references in media that you’re drawing inspiration from? Did any of them come through with Encore?
ZR: Multimedia research is often the seed for my artistic visions but the references for Encore are less than contemporary. The costumes harken back to the quintessential romantic films of Hollywood’s golden Age and French New Wave where the plots feature devastating, all consuming romance. Particularly relevant were the iconic silhouettes of Audrey Hepburn and the timeless quality of a neatly pressed suit worn by her many fictional suitors. The lights, on the other hand, cast the dying rays of the sunset against the slick, bustling streets of a metropolis. The colour palate borrows heavily from the street photography of Fred Herzog and Janet Delaney: saturated light, often with the natural blue and violet hues of dusk contrasted with neons and incandescent yellow glow. The sentimentality of their candid portraits also lends itself well to the subject matter at hand.
QDF: How did you get your start in design? Are there any projects you dream of working on?
ZR: Growing up, acting was one of my passions but visual art was equally enthralling. Clothing design and illustration came to me naturally. High school graduation presented me with a crossroad: performance or visual art. It was then it dawned upon me that costume design was field that could satisfy both devotions. During my artistic maturation at Concordia’s theatre design program it became apparent that my life’s work would be to delve into narrative through visual storytelling.
Moving forward, I aspire to work on shows that transcend the regular boundaries of theatre. The more surreal, absurd, and immersive, the more attractive the project. Shows which move away from realism, where the world can be completely constructed from imagination, are often those that allow for the greatest artistic freedom from a design standpoint.
Zoe Roux is a set, costume, and lighting designer based in Montreal. She was awarded ‘Outstanding
Emerging Artist’ at the The Montreal English Theatre Awards for her set and lighting design on
Invasive Species (Blue Ox productions) and Smackhead (We Are One). Other recent credits include:
costume and lighting design on Madame Catherine prépare sa classe de troisième à l’irrémédiable
(Surreal SoReal Theatre), assistant costume design on Dis Merci (Joe, Jack and John), assistant
costume design on Hosanna (Tableau D’Hôte Theatre and Centaur), and assistant costume and set
design on The Last Wife (Centaur Theatre). As well, she is a past alumni of the The Black Theatre
Workshop’s 2016-2017 Artist Mentorship Program.