Lighting, set, sound, costume, wig, projection, and other designers working on a production often articulate their artistic choices in a designer statement, sharing how they approached creating their designs.
"At the end of Trouble in Mind, sound design takes on an important role in the play.
In Act Two, the actors—who are playing actors—are in rehearsal for the Broadway production of a new play called Chaos in Belleville. There is a tape deck in the rehearsal room to play back sound cues. The sound cues contain “canned applause.” My job as sound designer is to set up tension in the final scene where the “fake” sound cues of applause for the rehearsal are interrupted with “real” sounds outside the window of the rehearsal room, creating an important metaphor for themes explored throughout the play." —Dan Moses Schreier, Sound Design
"Trouble in Mind lives inside the theatre, literally. It’s a real-time snapshot of two distinct moments occurring at the beginning stages of the rehearsal process for a new Broadway play. Unlike today, where the first days working on a new play happen in a rehearsal room off-site, our 1957 ensemble is rehearsing in the very Broadway house where the play will premiere. It was important that we honor the time period in terms of its specificity. The beauty of the top of Act One of Trouble in Mind is that we, the audience, take in the world of the first rehearsal day at the same time as our leading lady, Wiletta Mayer. Small details that make up the world of this Broadway house in 1957 are important. The theatre is in transition as the show opens. There are remnants of the old show loading out as this new show is beginning. Details like the hemp rope suspending the batten pipes, the subtle dusting of age on the black soft-good legs that hang in the theatre, and the creaking of the old wooden stage deck all help fill the world with color and depth.
Thus, the theatre itself is a character in the play. The Broadway stage carries a past with it. This is exemplified by the vast array of furniture used in the rehearsal. For example, each chair has a story. The same goes for the tables being utilized in rehearsal: they all have a history. Perhaps this chair or table were part of the set dressing in a past production. When was that faulty leg on that rehearsal table replaced with a piece of two by four?
For me, Trouble in Mind highlights the beauty of simple theatre magic, and how with a flurry of (period) lighting one can be carried back to a heightened memory from the past. The beauty of an ‘empty’ stage in Act Two allows for these memories to flood back for an instant and, just as quickly, vanish.
The discussions that come out of the rehearsal process of Chaos in Belleville (the name of the play the cast is rehearsing in the show) and its racially charged narrative are just as relevant today as they were in 1957. Locking in all these period details in the time capsule that is the stage of the ‘50s helps to heighten that correlation." —Arnulfo Maldonado, Set Design