'Designers on Their Broadway Sets' NY Times interview Anna Fleischle about her design of Hangmen
'Live theater summons energy no digital performance can match. Set designers for five of this season’s plays explain how they built eye-catching environments that crackle with it.'
Here's an excerpt from Anna's interview with New York Times about her design for Hangmen, which was recently nominated for a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Play.
Anna Fleischle: To watch a play where someone is executed within the first five minutes is so shocking. What we’ve seen is what our protagonist has been doing to earn his living. I wanted to find a metaphorical journey — how you take an audience from that shock, and you give space to really let that settle in. And in that space, the whole history of this person’s life lifts up into the air and basically is hanging above his head for the rest of the story. Everything afterward is in the shadow of it.
I do love the moment when the cafe opens” Anna Fleischle said of her multidimensional set. “You get this kind of little panorama opening” above the title character’s pub.
The cafe scene has a filmic feel to it, and the attention to detail is impeccable. Fleischle said she enjoys “the detail of aging — thinking about how time marks a space, how do human beings mark a space, and what do we leave behind?”
It’s a really dark story. At the same time, [McDonagh] manages to keep introducing humor. The opening of the cafe [set] has a little bit of that, a kind of spark in the eye about it. But the scene in itself is so heightened; to me it always felt really filmic — that it would be exciting to create this little box as if it was actually like a frame in film. But you’re in the theater, and you have the rain, and you’ve got the noise, and the place is a bit — it’s got grease all over it, and it smells of old fat. You just get that one glimpse of this place.
It’s always quite an important choice: How abstract or real do you want to be? What the realism helps with is that people think they know exactly where they are. It gives a sense of comfort. And it’s then that a story like this gets you. I love doing that.