Photo by Nina Goodheart.

Design Statements

“The biggest challenge is how we take the audience on a dark journey, particularly in today’s tension-filled world, while maintaining a sense of delight.”

Scotland, PA:

Design Statements

Tracy Christensen, Costume Design

I had never seen the film Scotland, PA, so I came to this project completely fresh and found it enthralling!

Every show I design begins with a conversation. I sit with the director (Lonny Price), who shares with me his impressions, his feelings, what he thinks the major themes are, and what he wants the tone of the piece to be. I go away and start doing research, taking into consideration who the characters are, what they want, what they value, their means, where they get their clothes from.

So, my research centers on regular people from middle America circa 1975 — lots of photos of real people instead of fashion images.

Lonny and I then look at the research together, and he responds to specific images. I slowly begin to identify looks that represent who these characters are. As a team, we have been having a lot of conversations around the characters of the three stoners, who are representative of the three witches from Macbeth, and the idea of choice vs destiny.

Destiny is something to really contemplate as something you believe in or something you don't, and this has a huge impact on my design. 

Despite the Roundabout being an incredibly generous producer, I am working within fiscal parameters — I have to be clever about finding solutions to the requirements of this piece that are within the means of the budget and the theatre space itself. My job is to support the play, the writers, the actors, my director, and certainly my producers.

Jeanette Yew, Lighting Design

I am really familiar with the movie on which this musical is based, and I am excited by how deeply the musical dives into the interior of the characters. It asks us to evaluate the line between “wants” and “needs,” which constitutes the bedrock of desire.  Having desire is natural, but how far should one go to fulfill their desires, and to what degree are the actions taken or choices made to fulfill them justified?

The musical starts with the mention of an aurora borealis, which is an exciting proposal for a lighting designer. Researching it, I found, aside from its beauty, there exists a sense of fear and bewilderment — a fitting visual metaphor for the theme of desire.

Since light is an ephemeral element, I can enhance this metaphor by playing with light and dark, deep and shallow, hidden and exposed. How the light sources are perceived and used can accentuate the interior conflicts that the various characters in the musical are experiencing.

The biggest challenge lighting this musical is how we take the audience on a dark journey, particularly in today’s tension-filled world, while maintaining a sense of delight. Theatre is a form that is meant to reflect. So, the challenge is to display the raw and dangerous emotions that are present and package them in a captivating and dynamic visual environment that keeps pace with the audience’s expectations.