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Location, location, location (and other details)

Note: This post is full of links to other really interesting websites. Each link opens a new window. Enjoy exploring!

The setting of a play can be as detailed and exact as the playwright, the director and/or the producer want or need it to be.  In the musical The Fantasticks, which has the feeling of a parable, the setting is a nearly bare stage with a trunk and a ladder.  In Larry Shue’s The Foreigner, the single large hunting lodge set (which needs to include a trap door) benefits from a loving attention to realistic detail.  [NOTE:  both this excellent shows are running right now in Fort Wayne, at IPFW and First Presbyterian, respectively.]

Jeannette Clift George sets her two-character play, Interval, in the heart of New York City, Manhattan.  Perhaps because for Americans, NYC is the quintessential Big City, it is a fitting backdrop for a play about two lonely people who are having a hard time finding a place to belong. Audience members who know New York well may have a bit of a job suspending disbelief that there could actually be a “forgotten corner” of Riverside Park, which runs along the Hudson River. We have tried to suggest that it is a sunken section of garden (steps down from street level).

You will notice several things about this garden:

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Who are Sam and Sara Ward?

As I was sitting in the studio at PBS Channel 39 last week, waiting to be part of an Arts Weekly interview (that link will take you to the whole show, of which I am the first six minutes–there will be a quicker YouTube link soon)…I looked over at John O’Connell’s list of questions for me and near the top I could see, “WHO ARE SAM AND SARA WARD?”

Wow, I thought. Great question.

I didn’t let him ask it. I answered it without prompting.

Who are Sam and Sara Ward?  They are:

Husband and wife,
Pastor and wife,
Parents of Eliana and Silas,
Passionate about redeeming the arts,
My friends.

Sam as Alan
Sam as Alan


Sara as Lenore
Sara as Lenore









I don’t have their biographies for the program yet, but I did come up with some questions to ask them. Their answers will give you a little more insight into what is so special about this couple.

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The Sounds of 1984

Sound design and music selection is always an integral part of our productions, and “1984” was no exception. It did present some unique challenges. Several characters in the play only appeared as either a sound or a video cue–what should the quality of that sound be? What kind of music would exemplify this world? What other sounds would enhance it?

Scott Kump, our sound designer for the show, worked closely with videographer Brent Kuster, to achieve just the right quality for all the sounds. You’ll hear a difference between the announcer’s voice on-camera, versus his disembodied voice in the Ministry of Love. This is different again from the flatter sound in the arrest sequence (where we are presuming the equipment being used is cheaper).  Goldstein’s voice is given a deliberately vintage, distorted quality.

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Some Notes on Production Design

We have opened!  It is so satisfying to see the finished product, after weeks–or months–of planning, discussion, scrambling to find or make props and costumes, etc.  I thought it would be interesting to give you a bit of insight into choices we’ve made in a number of areas:  costuming, set design, videography and lighting design… I was going to create multiple posts, but as it turned out, all these areas were tightly interconnected. Decisions made in one area affected them all.

Costuming challenge

The script calls for identical coveralls for the Party members–they are blue in the book, though navy versus light blue is not specified.  The Inner Party are supposed to be attired in black coveralls. This all sounds simple and straight-forward, doesn’t it?

But inquiries with our area’s uniform company revealed that no black coveralls were available–navy blue and gray were my choices. And the company, while willing to loan uniforms to us, did not have the number/sizes we needed. Meanwhile, I was unsure that blue was the right choice for our production…and I did not care for the Inner Party wearing coveralls, either.

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Is our world today anything like “1984”?

Orwell wrote his most famous book in order to illustrate what he saw as the logical conclusion to any totalitarian government. The abuses he describes fall into three basic categories:

  • Privacy 
  • Language
  • History

In the world of 1984, everyone is continually watched via the two-way communication device, the telescreen. Every facial expression is scrutinized for any indication that one is not sufficiently loyal. Party members are encouraged to spy on one another for the same purpose. No dissenting opinions may be expressed anywhere–even in one’s thoughts. Ultimately, the only offense against the Party isthoughtcrime.” Thoughtcriminals risk being “vaporized”–executed, and expunged from all history, as if they never existed. They become “unpersons.”

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