What is the Importance of Scenic Design? [video]

This week on Behind the Curtain we talk with Artistic Director Amanda Farnsworth about the importance of scenic design in theatre, and she tells an incredible story about her favorite show, ‘The Secret Garden’

Video Length: 2:03

QUESTION: “What is the importance of scenic design in theatre?”

AMANDA: “One of my favorite shows is ‘The Secret Garden.’ I saw the national tour a long time ago and they had almost a baroque style art at certain points when it referenced how the garden bloomed. There was a huge reveal in the second act when Mary finds the key, opens the door to the garden. And you’re left with just the door opening and this beautiful ray of light coming out. You can tell there’s something magical back there.

But then there’s a second reveal when it reveals the garden come to life. In the book, when it comes to spring and all the flowers are blooming and the secret garden comes to life, the scenic design took over the entire stage. There was a proscenium arch that was fully designed and there were a bunch of drops and flats and it was every aspect of the stage. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a set or a design get a standing ovation. Just when the curtain came up and the lights came up, the audience stood up—and we were crying because of design. And partly the story set us up to feel so much about the design because we weren’t just feeling it about the set, we were feeling it about the garden and the characters and all that. But scenic design can be so powerful. And that’s one of my favorites.

At the same time in the show there was so much darkness in the first act, so many different muted, dark greens and grays and black and browns you could feel the oppression of the first act. And that’s what made the reveal of the garden representing life and joy and color and youth so powerful when it came. That’s the first time I really experienced scenic design being a character in a show. And I love it for that reason.”

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