In January, we designed + built the set for Extremophiles, a theatrical production written and performed by Georgina Beaty at the High Performance Rodeo in Calgary.
Our set design drew from Georgina’s dark, richly-descriptive narrative in an effort to conjure the world of Extremophiles, a near-future, desert landscape in the far north of Canada where a micro-community has been relegated for fantastical, biological reasons. Similar to the narrative, which used light as a powerful metaphor, our design centred around a SUN. Intended to create an abstract chronograph for the passage of time, the sun illuminated 1-year in Extremophiles time, and 1-hour in real time, slowly counting down in rings to darkness.
Built from circles of coloured incandescent light bulbs, each of the 7 rings of the SUN was tied to a feeling – a progression of time + emotion objectified by different colour temperatures of light. One character (the anthropologist) was identified by bright, white, clinical light. The other (the mother) was characterized by warm rings of colour.
While the world of Extremophiles is subject to inconsistent dream-logic, over the course of the narrative, the sun slowly burns itself out – one ring at a time – before a supernova into nothing.
The TANK was another essential element of the set design. Intended to contain another character in the production (baby), the tank was characterized by a live theremin, fastened to a raised ladder. Built from a combination of aluminium tracks, LED lighting, mirror-film, wood, and other materials, the tank was used as a careful framing mechanism, both to create a “glass wall” separating the audience from the actor, and as an active participant in the narrative.
We were just one small part of the creation of Extremophiles. Working on this production was an adventure in collaboration! Many thanks to the thoughtful, patient, open-minded crew at Downstage Theatre.
Written and performed by Georgina Beaty.
Directed by Ellen Close.
Costume design by Jordan Wieben.
Lighting design by Jessie Paynter.
Sound design by Wayne Garrett.
Set design by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett.
Many thanks to the entire team!