Diana Uribe, Set and Costume Design
Chantal Labonté, Lighting Designer
Quebec Drama Federation: Can you talk a little bit about choosing to go with a minimalist aesthetic for the design in this production?
Diana Uribe: It’s a story that involves three different people whose lives are invested in this house. The story is not about the house as much as it is about them. The big inspiration was for the set to be a frame for them. The set had to be as clean and as pure as possible with the design. With Hannah, the story is so amazing that you don’t have a lot of time to worry about where they are.
On the costume side it was a little more complex. It’s a period of three months and transition where things happen and the characters are each involved in their own way. The set doesn’t change but the costumes do throughout the show.
Chantal Labonté: With the lighting it needed to be minimalistic as well to keep the characters as the focus. Because everything was so simplistic I didn’t want to impose ambiances during the scene. Even with colour, we’re playing with cools and warms without imposing a dramatic effect on the scene. The time where we do see a little more movement is when we show the passage of time. With music, we go into this other kind of atmosphere without saying anything- it’s very neutral.
QDF: We just walked through the set- it all looks and feels so expensive. Even with so few physical objects onstage, the set exudes a certain luxury.
DU: The story is of privileged people who have someone come to raise their child. On the other end of the spectrum, the woman who came from a third world country to raise another family’s kids. We needed to show that in their place. We needed to see the privilege from this family. They have money and we need to see it. Those elements are important in design in relation to the story. With minimalism, it works well to be contemporary and modern.
CL: This is the most blank canvas I’ve ever worked with, and in a way it stays blank. It’s the characters and the story that contrasts the blankness.
DU: I almost wanted this set to be like a sculpture in the middle of the stage. We started to put together our notes and both mine and Chantal’s were the exact same.
QDF: The architecture of the set you’ve designed allows for multiple rooms to be visible for the audience.
CL: It kind of looks like one full world.
DU: We have two levels for two bedrooms for the characters. They’re both merged together from opposite worlds and backgrounds together somehow onstage.
CL: They interact with each other.
QDF: Where did you draw references from for this production?
DU: Architecture. I love Scarpa’s architecture. It’s so clean and so modern. His work will still be contemporary a hundred years from now. I also think the internet is great, especially Pinterest. Before it would’ve been a library but now it’s all in my computer for image references.
CL: For me it’s paintings. When there’s just simply two colours, that hits me and will become my colour pallet.
QDF: Do either of you have any advice you would give to up and coming designers or folks looking to break into designing?
DU: Open your eyes. If you walk on the street, you’re on the metro, you’ll be inspired. Also, if you know the story, stay true to it. Yes, we would all like to put our signature on our work, but you need to check your ego. Work for the story and keep your ego down.
CL: On my end, I would say play with the objects and set that is given to you. Also explore! If you have an object work the different angles and colours. I would also say collaborate and listen to your fellow designers to make sure you understand their vision but you also have your own. Stay open, there is no one right answer.
QDF: That kind of goes with ego too.
CL: Listen and work with your team.
DU: I can go in my own studio and do my own work, but I need to keep a dialogue going.
Imago Theatre presents Other People’s Children by Hannah Moscovitch from October 25-November 4 at Centaur Theatre.
Imago Theatre is a catalyst for conversation, an advocate for equal representation, and a hub for stories about unstoppable women.
Interview conducted October 24, 2018.