Thursday, March 13, 2014

WATCH AWARD and Part One of DC Mardi Gras

Right off the bat I should mention that on Sunday I received a WATCH Award for outstanding set design for a musical 2013. It was for Dominion Stage's Avenue Q. It was my tenth nomination. Thanks to everyone who made it possible, especially my wife Kate, Dave Moretti and Arlington County Cultural Affairs.

Before I start this weeks blog post, I should also kick off the the C2YN countdown...

Countdown to Yuri's Night Countdown Clock: 
T-Minus 30 days. 
Be sure to get your tickets

So, it's impolite to show designs of a project that is still in progress, because much of the magic of live theater is, well, seeing it live and not a few weeks beforehand on the Artbyjaredblog. So, now that the 2014 DC Mardi Gras is a distant memory, I can share some of the early false starts and progress sketches...

So the client is the DC Mardi Gras, which is the "Expat" New Orleanians annual version of Mardi Gras here in DC at the Dupont Circle Hilton. I have helped design elements for this event off and on since 2002, particularly redesigning the portals for Thursday and Friday nights last year.

This year they wanted me to redesign the ceiling of the main event, Saturday Night. There was not much to go on, other than that they wanted something different and less "Tinseltown" in late September, I made a first sketch that I knew would be rejected, simply to "start the conversation". I proposed a giant crown, that would light up, rotate and have large fabric swags:

So they did not like this because it was too similar to what they had in the past, and was still too "Tinseltown". So, I went back to the drawing board and came up with a couple variations on a theme.

The puppeteer jester would be a giant sculptural jester puppet that also had puppets he was, he'd rotate and move his arms to control the puppets...below is the sketch showing what he would look like in the space:

I also made a version that would be much larger...
And if they didn't like that, I had a "Jester Band" sculptural centerpiece up my sleeve:

But, as it turns out, these were not what they were looking for at all. So, it started to dawn on me that "Tinseltown" meant something significant to them... These designs were all very "Contemporary" Bourbon Street. That is, they were the type of thing you would see covered in glitter and going down the street in today's Mardi Gras. What they wanted was something that was much older looking...classy...not glittery and gaudy...not "Tinseltown"....Next week I'll show you what came of that epiphany, and actually made it on to the floor of the Hilton...

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