REHEARSAL DIARY – Revealing The Set

A production meeting was held at Azerbaijan House, bringing together the team behind the upcoming production of You Are Always With Me. The team included, amongst others, director Filiz Ozcan and creative producer Sanan Aliyev. The purpose of the meeting was to track the progress of the production and to ensure that it is heading in the right direction. The group spoke fervently about Azerbaijan’s role in the Soviet Union during and after WWII, set designer Paulina Rzesowska started building an intriguing and important creation.

After much anticipation we had a replica of the play’s set in front of us. Populated with little behatted figurines and replete with dinky little Styrofoam furniture, the model gave the team their first glimpse at what the set could look like and how it could adapt scene by scene.

The props were carefully modeled on chairs and tables characteristic of 1960s Azerbaijan, including carpets traditionally hung on the wall. A set of blinds made of toothpicks hung over a window, intended to let fragmented light flood onto the stage to create an almost film noir like effect, helpfully demonstrated by a handy IPhone flashlight!

Shrunk down to the size of a dolls house, the set allowed the director to experiment as props were removed, repositioned and in the case of one unlucky table, chopped in half to make a smaller one! The diminutive figurines not only marked the characters positions, but also allowed us to see how they would interact with their space and props. For example, the initial scene focused on was in the interior of a house, which also had to include an office and sleeping area, whilst being open and uncluttered to the audience. After much debate it was agreed that tables would be a barrier between the audience and characters and were removed. The challenge is to ensure that the set is able to transform as required as the play proceeds. Making sure that everything can be moved around is imperative.

The second half of the day saw Paulina Rzesowska explaining her set to the cast of You Are Always With Me, an exciting moment where they got to see where everything will come to life. It is here that they begin to move from tinkering with models and onto tinkering with the cast and how they interact with a real stage. That will be just as exciting, I’m certain!

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