Pit Aesthetics: Year of the Rooster

CoHo Productions and Rolland Walsh present 

Year of the Rooster
by Olivia Dufault

October 27 – November 18
Directed by Alexandra Kuechler-Caffall
Featuring Sam Dinkowitz, Ahna Dunn-Wilder, Paige Johnson Jones, Michael O’Connell and Rolland Walsh

What does it take to create a world within a 95-seat black box theatre that is simultaneously nondescript Oklahoma town, formerly grand but now decaying home, florescent McDonald’s lobby, and filthy cockfighting pit populated by doughy losers, flashy cockers, razor sharp roosters, and Disney-obsessed teenage fast food managers? Designers with ideas. That’s what it takes.

From color palette to “general vibe” to practical use of set pieces and garments, the designers for Year of the Rooster have been refining their visions for months. Here, Set Designer Aran Graham and Costume Designer Elyse Grimaldi share some of their design renderings and a bit about what inspired them along the way.

THE SET

“There is no greater effect than a well-crafted script and no greater illusion than fine acting.”  – from Technical Theatre for Nontechnical People by Drew Campbell

Set design rendering for YEAR OF THE ROOSTER, view from house left corner.

Set Designer Aran Graham says this quote best captures his attitude about scenic design for the theatre in general, and for YOTR in particular. “Put simply, I believe that the focus of any show should be the performances of the actors and the words of the playwright. Good theatre engages something in its audiences that television and films just don’t seem to anymore: it fully engages the viewer’s imagination. The less I provide in the set, the more you have to fill in the blanks to make it work, and that’s a strength of live performance.”

Set design rendering for YEAR OF THE ROOSTER, view from house right corner.

“When I read a script like (YOTR), and I know it doesn’t need any bells and whistles to make it a success, I dispense with everything that isn’t vital and focus on only what the audience needs from the design to fire up their imaginations.”

Aran Graham puts finishing touches on the floor during tech week.

Aran has designed a space that uses the bright, solid colors often associated with the corporate color scheme of fast food chains and incorporates it into the shape of a cockfighting pit. The corrugated clear plastic roof structure creates the sense of an enclosed space without the claustrophobia.

 THE COSTUMES

Rendering for Gil Pepper

Costume Designer Elyse Grimaldi was inspired by 90’s era grunge fashion viewed through the lens of contemporary candy-colored advertising and popular culture. Though YOTR isn’t set in the 1990s, the people who live in the undefined Oklahoma town are slightly behind the curve when it comes to fashion trends. Elyse gathered photos from concert mosh pits, lo-fi home candids, and street kid Polaroids to guide her design.

Rendering for Philipa Long

“Disney and McDonald’s branding are heavily represented in the play, helping to create a dialogue about the relationship between consumerism and the American dream. The simple, color-blocked nature of the costumes is meant to reflect the same punchy quality of modern advertising.”

Rendering for Dickie Thimble

Year of the Rooster opens October 27 and runs through November 18. Tickets available now.