Many productions of Rent stage the musical in a realistic New York street scene, firmly rooting the story in its early-1990s context. I felt that the universal human themes of the play had a contemporary currency that was otherwise overlooked, so I chose to create a more conceptual set design based on the play's tackling of homelessness and poverty.
Constructed predominantly from recycled timber, cardboard, corrugated sheeting and shipping pallets, the idea was to evoke the temporary, ephemeral and impoverished world which the characters inhabit. The set made use of several raised levels with various access points and a fireman's pole in order to make it as adaptable as possible for the actors. The on-stage band were situated below the highest level and visible through chain-link mesh, a key feature of the design ensuring that actors and musicians were united onstage at all times.
Having a static set throughout the show - adapted through props and lighting - allowed for a greater exploration of the lives of the characters as it could be inhabited by actors at any point, even if they were not called for in the script. The set thus formed a key part of the director’s vision and was actively used in blocking and character improvisation.
DIRECTOR: Georgia Figgis
PRODUCER: Nicole Evans
DESIGNER: Nathan Stazicker
LIGHTING: Stephen Green
COSTUMES: Christina Hill
"Set designer Nathan Stazicker... has done a fantastic job at recreating a Manhattan squat on stage"