written by Andy Paris and Anushka Carter
directed by Andy Paris
Lead Designer (November 2011-May 2013): Sarah Martin
This new devised play sought to explore life on the autism spectrum, investigation the questions: What is Autism?
As the Lead Designer for this project, I was deeply engaged in learning the research and issues surrounding autism, developing storytelling ideas through design, dreaming the impossible, and facilitating workshop development of technical elements at University of Northern Iowa, Bucknell University, and in New York City. During the course of my involvement, I accompanied the writers to numerous events such as World Autism Day on the Intrepid (NYC), and the HOPE conference (Hackers on the Planet Earth (NYC), and was invited to speak about the design and devising process at the Entertainment Innovation Conference at UNCSA in 2012.
My work in this process had three primary goals: to brainstorm and explore design ideas alongside the exploration of story, to create design drawings and models of possible worlds, and to synthesize design ideas into workshop technical elements that could be used in residence at UNI, Bucknell, and NYC. When designing for a devised work there is a delicate balance between creating a flexible world within which the story can continue to be explored and discovered, one into which other designers can eventually contribute their respective expertise, and creating a world that is “possible” without knowing the venue, the budget, and in this case, the story, the design team, or the timeline.
The images here are a sampling of drawings and models that I developed for the project. The primary imagery was the 3D printer or “Rep Rap”, which became the foundation of my ideas about movement and scale. We wanted to put the experience of autism on stage, where entire worlds can appear out of thin air, becoming elusive or overwhelming or changing in an instant. Our experimental ideas ranged from holograms, Pepper’s ghost, and musion screens, to conveyor belts, pipe systems, and plexiglass floors. The idea was to work with mutable surfaces that could easily transform with imagery to a completely different spatial, physical, dimensional, or visual reality.
The writers continued development of the play which will be produced by Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the campus of University of Northern Iowa in their 2015-2016 season.
Tectonic Theatre Project