|An early sketch of McKay's design.|
In order to reflect the action of the play, her design incorporates muted greys alongside brighter colors to symbolize the pessimistic versus the optimistic. On one hand there's the idealistic Dr. Stockmann, morally prepared to do the right thing. On the other is his brother, Peter, repressing the truth for the sake of money and self-interest.
McKay explains, "There's this nugget of idealism with Dr. Stockmann and his family, which I've tried to portray as a sunny, warm, cohesive environment where everything fits together. Their comfortable home contrasts with a grey outside world that threatens to fall apart at any moment."
|The Stockmanns' charming 1950s home. Photo by Curtis Brown.|
Look for childhood photos of cast members adapted to fit the era, and notepads, not left blank, but filled with stories to keep the actors engaged in their craft! Details like this are indicative of McKay's meticulous approach to design and her ability to give the actors a realistic space to create, discover, and live in the moment.
Some truly remarkable elements of McKay's scenic design are the set transforms as plot and characters evolve. A monumental transition occurs when the Stockmanns' cozy living room fades into the background and a newspaper office rises to become the focal point. This transition parallels the shift of public opinion away from Dr. Stockmann and in favor of his conniving but impeccably dressed brother, Peter.
|The transition from the Stockmann home to the newspaper office. Pictured: Benjamin Curns and Gregory DeCandia. Photo by Curtis Brown.|
Just as his brother, the newspaper, and the townspeople turn on Dr. Stockmann, so does the water. Following a one-sided debate, Dr. Stockmann is bombarded by an unsavory crowd that removes grates from the edge of the set, scoops water from the trough, and throws it in his face. This moment in the play serves as a snapshot of the troubles yet to come for the Stockmann family.
McKay felt the water could represent the truth that's being kept hidden from the townspeople. She explained, "The truth could not be contained, just as the water could not be contained."
|The mob entering the Stockmann home. Photo by Curtis Brown.|