Saturday, August 17, 2013

The World of Death of a Salesman

“From Slavery Through Reconstruction” by Aaron Douglas (1934)
Michael Raiford's set design.
Director Marc Masterson has assembled a top notch team of designers to tackle Arthur Miller’s classic play, Death of a Salesman.

While the play generally takes place in the late 1940s when Miller wrote it, Masterson was interested in the overall production emphasizing the universality of the plays themes rather than an absolutely faithful historical reproduction. He and set designer Michael Raiford were inspired by the Brooklyn neighborhood setting and its increasing urban density as it encroaches upon the Loman’s diminutive home. Raiford abstracted the overlapping buildings, skylines, and fences of the city into the many linear angles and slats you can see in the set.

Holly Poe Durbin's costume design for Willy
Raiford was also inspired by the African-American casting choices which led him to the work of muralist Aaron Douglas. Douglas painted murals in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s, and some of his murals can be found at Fisk University and the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library, now called the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. His work is modernist and typically abstracted from West African and Ancient Egyptian art, featuring flat forms and repeated geometric shapes.

Lighting designer Brian Lillenthal will set the mood and tone, working with rich light and the shadows cast by the set.

Costume designer Holly Poe Durbin is challenged with evoking the sense of the late 1940s and early 50s within this abstracted set. Sound designer and composer Jim Ragland will be creating a jazz infused score for the production.

Pictured: Initial ideas and renderings from Raiford and costume designer Holly Poe Durban. These are a starting point that will evolve over time until you see the final pieces at showtime.

1 comment:

  1. looks like a fascinating adaptation. Look forward to it.