Posted December 10th, 2012 in Portfolio by sarah

By William Shakespeare
Writers’ Theatre
September 2012
Directed by Michael Halberstam
Set design by Collette Pollard
Costume design by David Hyman
Sound design by Mikhail Fiksel

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Black Pearl Sings!

Posted February 28th, 2012 in Portfolio by sarah

By Frank Higgins
Northlight Theatre
January 2012
Directed by Steve Scott
Set design by Jack Magaw
Costume design by Emily McConnell
Sound design by Christopher Kriz

Research collages

Production photos
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The Kid Thing

Posted February 28th, 2012 in Portfolio by sarah

By Sarah Gubbins
Chicago Dramatists/About Face Theatre
September 2011
Directed by Joanie Schultz
Set design by Chelsea Warren
Costume design by Izumi Inaba
Sound design by Miles Polaski

Research collage

Production photos
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Posted May 18th, 2011 in News by sarah

There are a few things to celebrate.

The least of which is not the well-deserved success of Festen at Steep Theatre.  “Festen” means celebration…but this party gets a little…um…uncomfortable?…when certain things are revealed about the man being celebrated.  Steep Theatre pursued this script for a long time before they landed it, and it was delightful to work with their talented ensemble, as well as to team up with director Jonathan Berry and set designer Dan Stratton again after the much-lauded Suicide, Inc. last year.

And for something completely different, I am looking forward to teaming up again with Lookingglass’s David Kersnar on two projects next season: first up is Goodnight Moon.  A musical based on the book we all know and love from childhood, it will come to life at Victory Gardens with a production by Chicago Children’s Theatre.

Then in early 2012 Lookingglass and David Kersnar are back at the Chicago Symphony with a special co-production. Into the Big Green Meadow was a blast last year, so I am excited to be invited to play again.

Also in 2012 I’ll be back at Lifeline with the same wonderful team from Wuthering Heights and Mariette in Ecstasy, adapter Christina Calvit and director Elise Kauzlaric for Pride and Prejudice. Can’t wait!


Posted May 18th, 2011 in Portfolio by sarah

By David Eldridge, based on the film and play by Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov and Bo hr. Hansen
Steep Theatre
May/June 2011
Directed by Jonathan Berry
Set design by Dan Stratton
Costume design by Janice Pytel
Sound design by Christopher Kriz

Research and renderings

Production photos
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Festen began its life as a story captured on film by artists using the “Dogme 95” outline for film-making, which emphasizes naturalism and eschews any special effects of lighting or elaborate camera set-up. When playwright David Eldridge adapted the story for the London stage, he channeled that school of thought into an emphasis on gaining a gritty, uncensored look at the relationships of these twisted family characters.
In Jonathan Berry’s Steep Theatre production, the goal of the design was to ground the family in a world that feels rich, but dark; and allows scenes to move fluidly from one cold hotel room to another, before settling around the large celebration table where the secrets, lies, and accusations that mar the patriarch’s birthday take place. In lighting, that meant supporting the deliberate, spare set with a cool-to-cold color palette, sharp lines of light for figures to pass into and out of rooms, and careful use of high contrasts between highlight and shadow.  Christian’s struggle with the truth is underscored by visions of his dead sister, supported with light by a mysteriously warm and shadowy look that obscures the face of his young niece and drives him deeper into confusion. Once all is laid bare, and all of his siblings are forced into a confrontation with their father, an awkward breakfast under a soft, less shadowy light suggests that from the ugly truth might arise new life.

Winter Happenings

Posted January 23rd, 2011 in News by sarah

It is a busy January.

The New Electric Ballroom opens at A Red Orchid Theatre on Tuesday, January 25th.  My grad school chum (and revered Chicago director) Robin Witt directs Irish playwright Enda Walsh’s weirdo play about…well, its about loneliness and love and the safeties and dangers of locking oneself away from the outside world.  Its dark and disturbing and funny.  AROT Artistic director Kirsten Fitzgerald and founding ensemble member Guy Van Swearingen appear with Kate Buddeke and Laurie Larson and, man, do these kids know how to tell a story.  Jessica Keuhnau designed the set, Izumi Inaba designed the costumes, and AROT ensemble member Joseph Fosco designed the sound.

Next, I am thrilled (understatement) to be back at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!  I have just posted photos of Into the Big Green Meadow from November.  That project was so much fun, and I am so delighted to have been invited back.  Opening to an audience of school children on Friday is From the City to the Country. Guest Conductor Mei-Ann Chen leads the CSO in several selections that highlight how the sounds of the orchestra can set the scene, from the cacophony of the city to a gentle country rain.  We will hear from Gershwin, Bernstein, Copland, Bach, Rossini…and a guest appearance by “Inspector Noteworthy.”

Then I take a quick walk down to the #12 Roosevelt bus and head to Provision Theatre for Shadowlands.  It is my first project with Provision.  They have a lovely space and it is a beautiful little love story, so I’m quite excited to get in and get started.  Shadowlands is directed by Provision artisitic director Tim Gregory, with scenery by Inseung Park, and costumes by Isaac B. Turner.  Previews start February 2nd, and the show runs through March 20th.

Into the Big Green Meadow

Posted December 10th, 2010 in Portfolio by sarah

By Sergei Prokofiev
Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Lookingglass Theatre
November 2010
Conductor Sarah Hatsuo Hicks
Directed by David Kersnar
Set design by Marianna Csaszar
Costume design by Alison Siple

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Production photos © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2010

New projects, and Old projects that are News

Posted November 12th, 2010 in News by sarah

I have added production photos from Scorched at Silk Road Theatre Project.  It runs through November 21, so there are still plenty of opportunities to see a truly haunting story.  Its the Jeff Recommended Chicago premiere.

Into the Big Green Meadow took place at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last week to four packed audiences of delighted (and delightfully well-behaved) kids.  At Symphony Hall.  Which is huge and beautiful!  The show was a tribute to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, featuring the childhood favorite Peter and the Wolf.  I will post some production photos soon, but I will take a moment to salute the always brilliant work of Marianna Csaszar and Alison Siple.  David Kersnar, my grad school chum who I haven’t worked with since his thesis project Marisol, directed the show that was co-produced with Lookingglass.  And Brett Schneider brought the magic and the whole thing was…magical!

And in Old projects that are News:  I will be re-designing lights for the re-mount of Wind in the Willows at City Lit this December.  City Lit Artistic Director Terry McCabe will direct Doug Post’s script.  Its a musical–look out for dancing Weasels and Toad!


Posted November 11th, 2010 in Portfolio by sarah

By Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau
Silk Road Theatre Project
October 2010
Directed by Dale Heinen
Set design by Tom Burch
Projection design by Mike Tutaj
Costume design by Carole Blanchard
Sound design by Peter Storms

Design process images

Production photos
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The design challenge of Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched is to create a space that supports a story that flows in and out of time and place, sliding backwards and forwards from the present tense to decades earlier, from North America to the Middle East, intersecting as the two adult twin siblings discover the secrets of their mother’s past.  Using clues she has left behind for them, the twins travel from Montreal to Lebanon, working backwards to uncover the truth, while their mother’s story is unveiled to the audience in scenes that move forward and overlap with the twins’ journey. Tom Burch’s set evoked the bullet-ridden buildings and the hot, dry texture of the Middle East, while a large, modern, plastic-looking slab seems to have crash-landed on that environment, providing a ground zero for the present-tense, present-continent scenes. The lighting design idea was inspired by the burning-hot photography of Rebecca Guberman Bloom, contrasted with the cool contemporary interiors of photographer Doug Dubois. Tourism photos of Lebanon provided an inspiration for the romantic lavender side-lighting that underscores the love story fighting for a place in a war-torn environment.

Wuthering Heights

Posted October 22nd, 2010 in Portfolio by sarah

Adapted by Christina Calvit from the novel by Emily Brontë
Lifeline Theatre
September 2010
Directed by Elise Kauzlaric
Set design by Alan Donahue
Costume design by Branimira Ivanova
Sound design by Andrew Hansen

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