Nicole is new to Gallery 7 Theatre, but no stranger to the Vancouver theatre scene. She is a Jessie award winning costume designer, and has done set, lighting and costume design for numerous productions in Vancouver. She recently graduated from University of Alberta with a MFA in Theatre Design. She has done double duty with our production of Robinson Crusoe doing both light and set design. Gallery 7 had a chance to interview Nicole during the busy week in the lead up to our opening night this Friday!
Gallery 7: Tell us about your theatre background – have you always done design work or have you been involved in other theatre elements like acting or directing?
Nicole: I started acting in highschool and found that I also enjoyed working behind the scenes. I have dabbled in directing and playwriting but I feel most at home as a designer.
G7: How did you get involved with Gallery 7? Is it important to you to be involved with a faith-based theatre?
N: Honestly, I found Gallery 7's posting on Craig's List and I had no idea that it was a faith-based theatre. I was pleasantly surprised. I don't discriminate between working with faith-based or secular theatres, I find all theatre an opportunity for spiritual growth.
G7: Tell us about your thought process as you prepared the set design for Robinson Crusoe. What are you hoping to achieve with your design?
N: I wanted to create a very full stage picture that emphasizes Crusoe's smallness as one man in a vast, open landscape. I wanted to communicate his feeling of being along in the world, but also portray the beauty of his natural environment.
G7: You also designed the lighting for the play. Tell us about that.
N: I designed the set with the lighting in mind, knowing that the sail would be a transitional piece that could reflect colour and lighting. The mood shifts from heavy to light, and back and forth as Crusoe struggles to find meaning in his isolation.
G7: Had you read the book or seen any other version of this story before working on this play? Do you think seeing a movie version of a play before working on it is a help or a hindrance?
N: I had not seen the movie or read the book though I was vaguely familiar with the story. I chose not to watch a film version in this case although it can be helpful in other cases. This time, I wanted to make sure my ideas came from my own intuition not another interpretation.
G7: What were some of the challenges you faced in the design process?
N: MEI does not have a fly system to work with so it was a major challenge to safely rig the sale. The moving components on the set were also challenging to safely implement.
G7: Are there any interesting facts about your designs that the audience should know about?
N: The floor cloth was painted with the help of several volunteers. I based my design on a 17th century map of the Caribbean and it is meant to look like old parchment. Also I incorporated foot lighting at the front of the stage to help give a historical feel to the lighting - this is a traditional method called foot-candles.
G7: What do you hope the audience will take away from this play?
N: I hope the audience can enjoy the kinetic sense of the set and the way it can transform. I hope they enjoy the storytelling and imaginary world of the island!
Here are some photos of the set model Nicole built for Robinson Crusoe. A model of the set is very useful to the production team, as it assists in planning staging and construction. It's important to point out here that the model below showcases the overall concept for the set to be built, and does not necessarily reflect the colors that will ultimately be used. You'll have to come out to the show to see just how the set, complete with a rocking platform and flyable sail, looks in real life.