Utah State Theatre Education Program 2012
Directed by: Matt Omasta
Set by: Spencer Potter
Costumes by: Nancy Hills
And Then They Came For Me: Remembering The World of Anne Frank, tells the story of the children who knew Anne Frank and were also subjected to the horrors of the Holocaust. The Utah State Theatre Education Program was producing this show to tour to area elementary schools.
The needs of a touring show were important considerations for the design. All I the touring company of students had available was the back of two vans that also needed to transport the actors and crew. It was also not known what exact locations were going to be used. We were anticipating many schools would be added to the tour schedule. So whatever was designed, it needed to be self-contained and ready for any space. Someone jestingly said that this was a "suitcase show." The idea stuck.
There were three reasons it stuck. First, suitcases were an excellent means of transporting props, and by the very nature of their purpose, meant to be transported. The second reason was that suitcases spoke to the transient and unsure existence that many were forced to live while in hiding. The look of a pile of suitcases also evoked the magnitude of the situation. The final reason was an image I found of a pile of suitcases at a death camp. It was one of those terrible, enormous piles of artifacts that served as a testament and final memorial to those lost. This image cemented the concept as one that served the function of the show but speak to the history and emotions of the show.
Other scenic considerations I needed to make were a screen for projections and some means of lighting. The projection screen was necessary because footage of the actual men and women the children grew up to be is written into the script and helped tell the story as they interacted and spoke to their younger selves.
The other need was lighting. Because our goal was to be self-contained and prepared for any venue, We developed a lighting system out of practical lamps. The look of the lamps and other items added with the suitcases added to the "packed up" look.