Rachel Hauck, Set Design
Finding the look of the busy home for 72 Miles to Go… has been a joy, but also a real challenge. The play follows the story of a busy family of five who have been divided by the southern border. The design challenge for this set is twofold. The first trick is to capture the home and lives of the characters through the texture, color, and detail. The family is struggling financially, with a couple kids in high school and one more out in the world trying to find work. There is a mix of American and Mexican aesthetic. So from my end, that means finding out what their lives look like in an intimate, specific, highly detailed way.
It is also essential that among all the cooking and driving and ironing and sermons and graduation speeches, the action of the play does not stop in order to wait for scenery to change. That need defines the look of the design as much as anything else. The puzzle becomes how to put just enough detail into each location for the audience to know where they are, make it possible to play the action of the scene, and make it possible to relate to and understand the characters.
Within that, is also essential to leave room for all the other places the story needs to go, both logistically and emotionally. The inside of the house needs to feel small—very small—but also cozy, full of love and some struggle. The presence of the border wall weighs heavy on this family’s lives. Although it is not literally a location in the play, we found a way to put the feeling of the wall on stage, and along with it the telephone wires that stretch across the borders and are the lifeline for this family.
Lap Chi Chu, Lighting design
One of the most important jobs that the design team has with the play 72 Miles to Go… is keeping the action fluid from scene to scene. The play is told in many different locations over a span of eight years. Between every powerful and sensitive scene, there will need to be some sort of change in our setting. We will keep telling the story of the play while setting after setting is moving into view. As lighting designer, I have been asking myself and Jo Bonney, the director: “Does the lighting design track the motion of the scene we are leaving—as a visual gesture that would enhance our understanding of what just happened—or do we use the lighting as a visual gesture that leads us into the upcoming scene?”
Lighting is a medium that can change quickly or slowly or as starkly or vividly as necessary. Light can be used to instantly start and end scenes, all the while helping to track the storyline. I continually brainstorm lighting and visual ideas that could help articulate or contextualize every one of these transitions.
As I am writing this design statement, many of my ideas are still in flux. Some of my current ideas will be used, many others discarded. But my collaborators and I will have numerous opportunities to learn more about which ideas best tell the story. These ideas will be tested during the rehearsal process, the technical rehearsals and, finally, with the preview audience.
Elisheba Ittoop, Sound Design
Something I have talked to Jo Bonney, the director, and Hilary Bettis, the playwright, about is the idea of being a “third culture kid”. It is how I grew up and it is how the young people in this show are growing up. Being “third culture” means you straddle two or more cultures. For myself, I was born to an Indian and English family, and we moved when I was very young to North Carolina. Those three cultures are all a part of who I am. I claim no one culture, rather, they all influence how I grew up and see and experience the world. I see that also within this family—a straddling of two distinct cultures—whose lives are made incredibly difficult by a government-imposed border.
Through sound and music, I am working to highlight these worlds. What does it mean to not be wholly of one culture and when the country you grew up in doesn’t totally take you in accept you? Third culture kids create their own fusion/hybrid culture that speaks to who they are. That is what I hope to accomplish with the sound design in 72 Miles to Go...—a sense of hovering between two cultures, that sometimes blend seamlessly and that sometimes is at odds with each other.