Live performance at the University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film & Television (TFTV) is officially back, and our 2021/22 season is in full swing.
The Season opened in October with packed houses for James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, and tonight Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters will open in the Tornabene Theatre. Director Brent Gibbs says “Sarah Ruhl’s translation is a beautiful rendering of the work. It allows our students the chance to work on wonderful material and our audiences to enjoy an incomparable piece of dramatic literature.”
Along with Director Brent Gibbs, the creative team for Three Sisters includes designers from the Design and Technical Production BFA and Graduate programs.
Kensey Coleman is the Scenic Designer on Three Sisters and a third year MFA Theatre Arts (Theatre Design and Production) candidate. She received her BFA in Scenic Design and Technical Direction from The University of Southern Mississippi. Outside of her work at TFTV, her latest design work includes a production of Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters, which was picked up by The August Wilson African American Culture Center soon after it was produced by Pitt Stages. She also designed SUNY New Paltz’s production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is ENUF. We asked Kensey about her design process.
Tell us about your inspiration for the scenic design of Three Sisters.
Coleman: The inspiration behind the scenic design for this production is the idea of maintaining a sense of comfort and sustainability through bits and pieces of hope. The women in this play are all pursuing different happinesses. All of them are linked to their childhood experiences in Moscow. That is why I chose to float abstract onion domes above the space. It is a symbol of totality and success and happiness for them.
What are the opportunities and challenges designing in-the-round?
Coleman: I’ve only ever designed in a black box theater with a tennis court orientation. Designing in the round has afforded me the opportunity to explore new sightline issues, storage spaces and minimal/practical spatial designs. The Tornabene is an incredibly unorthodox space. I also didn’t get to choose the deck layout aside from the paint treatment. It was a challenge understanding how to make a multilevel off-centered platform work with a semi-practical domestic interior.
On being back in production after working remotely…
Coleman: This was one of the most challenging productions I’ve experienced so far. I stand confident knowing that I conquered this production amidst the pandemic and all of the production losses it has caused. I think I speak for the entire team when I say that we are all experiencing a difficult time getting back into the standard swing of things. We have been working remotely for nearly 2 years, so working in person as we produce a show in person has produced its own challenges. All of which are necessary challenges to help get back into the swing of things.
Discover Kensey’s scenic work in Three Sisters now through November 21. Tickets are available at tickets.arizona.edu.