Moving right a long with with the After Interviews, giving you a little insight into our talented team behind Chad Beckim‘s After., meet Set Designer Jason Simms. We first met Jason last year on Sam Hunter‘s A Bright New Boise when he created an incredibly intricate set for director Davis McCallum and the production team.
PCP: Jason, you’ve been designing so much within the last year, with many productions in New York and surrounding theaters. What have been some recent highlights for you?
JASON: Working at The Public on Urge for Going with Hal Brooks and Mona Mansour was a true pleasure because of the amount of support (both physical and emotional) the staff at their provides. Designing Greg Keller‘s play Dutch Masters directed by Brian Roff at the Berkshire Theatre Group was swell too. Also, A Thousand Clowns directed by Davis McCallum at Two River Theater was great fun.
PCP: Partial Comfort audiences were first introduced to your work in Sam Hunter‘s A Bright New Boise. For Sam’s play, you created an incredibly welcoming and life-like breakroom in the back of a local Idaho Hobby Lobby, complete with a hallway window, a working coffee pot, and a strike door – just so many elements to that set that we loved. We’re curious to know: when you look back on the design, is there one aspect of set that excited you the most – color, perspective, even that nasty fridge that we salvaged?
JASON: The fact that I was able to put a real room on stage was incredibly satisfying. Watching characters on stage behaving like real people and doing real things was the goal of the design. The Boise set was a space that could be activated by the action of the play. Sam wrote a play that took place in one space, which meant we could focus on the reality of that space and make it as real as possible. It was a literal “dissection” room.
PCP: Now that you’re working with us on Chad Beckim‘s After., what were some of your first impressions of the play and how did that shape your initial design? And how do the perspectives of the scenic and sound designers influence your work?
JASON: After. is an excitingly different situation than Boise. With multiple locations that are essential to the story, we are approaching the design in a way that is completely different. I don’t want to give away too much, but I think the audience is in for a treat and departure from the usual.
As with any project, collaboration with the other designers of a project is about discovering a language that is unique to the project that we are working on, even though we are using different mediums to speak it. The hope of any project is that these things will come together to create a world in which we can tell the story in the most interesting way possible. It takes a lot of trust and faith between all the designers and the director.
PCP: Having worked in off-off theaters, is there a specific space that you love to design for or wish to design for next on account of its layout, its limitations, its ambience?
JASON: I think part of the job of being a set designer is being able to fall in love with any space. The space is the physical limitation of what a set can be, and every space has its own set of limitations. One of the joys of working in off-off and off-Broadway spaces is the diversity of “character” each space presents. For Example, The Anspacher at The Public is a challenging space because its layout dictates so much of what the design can be. I’m always looking for new challenges because they help me grow as a designer. So, I guess, I would love to work in any space that I haven’t already.
PCP: You work on a lot of original plays – any theater classics you’d like to work on?
JASON: I believe that another part of a set designer’s job is to be able to fall in love with any play. At the moment, I am working on two “classics” outside of NYC: Sweeney Todd and Fefu and Her Friends. I have also designed classics such as Harvey, The Crucible and On Golden Pond (all outside of NYC also). I would love to design The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder because I think its relevance never dies.
Beginning Wednesday, September 14th
Click here for tickets, or visit www.partialcomfort.org/on-stage-up-next/