Moving Through Space and Time: Set Design in SOONER/LATER

April 13, 2018
Natalie Hulla
Written by Allyson Currin, Sooner/Later is a world premiere play with a metaphysical twist that navigates the paths of romance, marriage and parenting. Set Designer Narelle Sissons shares her insight into how she imagined bringing this captivating production to life onstage. Her notes are featured below.

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Mary Bacon (Nora), Olivia Cygan (Lexie) and Todd Cerveris (Griff) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

While thinking about the set design for Sooner/Later, Director Lisa Rothe and I realized that the space needed to be flexible so that the actors could easily move between three locations in our/their minds: the closet, the café and the outdoor night-time scenes. In order to do this, we looked at similarities between all three places while thinking about the qualities of the characters and imagining where they might live.

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Olivia Cygan (Lexie) and Mary Bacon (Nora) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

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Mary Bacon (Nora), Olivia Cygan (Lexie) and Todd Cerveris (Griff) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

We decided to use the upstage area for the closet scenes, as it would allow us to spill over into the downstage café areas. The café itself is set against the closet behind it. For the night time scenes, it became clear we would need to open up the entire space and include the audience. Without giving anything away, we created an all-inclusive environment that will hopefully delight.

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Mary Bacon (Nora) and Olivia Cygan (Lexie) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

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Mary Bacon (Nora) and Olivia Cygan (Lexie) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

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Todd Cerveris (Griff) and Mary Bacon (Nora) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

The characters are so well-written that it's easy to imagine were they live. Nora shops at Target and vintage stores and has a “thrown-together” sensibility, so the closet is packed with clothes. Lexie wanders easily between the café and the closet space, so she needs an eclectic place to exist. Griff is more solitary, so we created the sense of the “empty café” for him with unknown images on a chalkboard that are ghostly and eerie.

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Olivia Cygan (Lexie) and Mary Bacon (Nora) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

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Olivia Cygan (Lexie) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

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Todd Cerveris (Griff), Olivia Cygan (Lexie) and Mary Bacon (Nora) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Overall, this has been a really great process in “visually” telling the story of these three characters in Allyson's wonderful play.

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Todd Cerveris (Griff), Olivia Cygan (Lexie) and Mary Bacon (Nora) in Sooner/Later; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

For more information about the Playhouse’s production of Sooner/Later, visit our production detail page.