WEST SIDE STORY at OXFORD PLAYHOUSE
Underneath the railway bridges on the outskirts of Manchester city centre there are a series of cavernous arches. These atmospheric spaces still carry an air of abandonment with their boarded-up windows and peeling paintwork.
This urban location provided the design inspiration for my version of 1950s New York. The looming window of one of the arches was recreated as the centrepiece, constantly standing above the action on stage with subtly changing light filtered through its broken panes.
The urban setting with its large window was intended to be a neutral space, where both the Sharks and the Jets could feel at home and own the stage. Scene changes took place by bringing external elements into this neutral space, be it Doc’s drugstore or Maria’s bedroom. The walls of these rooms were created with wheeled metal fencing panels, the configurations of which were developed by the cast in rehearsals in order that they may truly inhabit the spaces.
The aim was to create a location on stage relevant to the production but timeless and transferable at the same time. By using a non-specific urban setting, I hoped to highlight how the issues dealt with by the characters are not exclusive to mid-century America.
DIRECTOR: Dominic Applewhite
PRODUCER: Isabel Ogilvie-Smith
DESIGNER: Nathan Stazicker
LIGHTING: Edward Horner
COSTUMES: Olivia Sung
"By using a non-specific urban setting, I hoped to highlight how the issues dealt with by the characters are not exclusive to mid-century America"