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the pillowman.

play by martin mcdonagh


Artist Statement.

As I read The Pillowman, what I found intriguing was its depiction of the corruption of innocence. The themes of innocence and darkness intertwined throughout the play. The use of almost enchanting children tales with its very own disturbing and gruesome twists painted a picture of the complexity of human nature. The conversations between Katurian and the detectives, accompanied by Katurian’s stories, were anxiety provoking. Moreover, as the play progressed, different elements were constantly being revealed, thus, changing the narrative of the story. Each layer of narrative adds a level of depth to the story and elevates the complexity between the relationship of each character, generating the essential pillars for the play.


For my inspiration, I held onto the essence of the dark and twisted fairy tale, along with the concept of the intertwined black and whites of human nature. I explored the idea of using light and shadows to create two different worlds - one being the interrogation room and the other being the stories that were being told. The worlds would be separated by a semi-transparent scrim; everything in front of the scrim will be seen as the “real” world with real pieces of furniture, however, everything behind the scrim will be layers of backlit 2-dimensional flats, creating depth. Furthermore, everything will be framed by 2 portals in the front. The portal designs will be of a hardcover book and it’s inside pages. This is relevant as it enhances the essence of the contrast between an idealistic fairytale and the tough reality of human nature. The portals will also be of different sizes; smaller as we go backstage as the purpose is to generate a more closed off atmosphere, further emphasizing the essence of childhood storytelling.


I am using photoshop to generate colored elevation in hopes that the design will reflect exactly how I want each layer to look in terms of color and texture. While creating these designs, I referenced a lot of real photographs of books and relevant objects. I researched different styles when it came to the shadow flats, and experimented with a variety of designs. For example, a jankier styled outline versus a more realistic cutout. I created the flats in the background by layering preexisting images I found on the internet and cropping and shading it into an outline of a more specific design I had in mind. The ground plan reflects the layering effect of flats and portals to create the enclosed, trapped atmosphere mentioned above. I designed this set based on the concept of wanting to capture something that seems innocent at the start but has a dark twist, and I intend to capture the conflicting emotions by generating shadows as a metaphor that suggests that human nature are not always black and white, there are many greys and everyone faces some sort of moral conflicts at times. However, by framing it within a storybook, the design captures to an extent the lingering wholesomeness of children tales.

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