Interview with set and costume designer Ana Inés Jabares-Pita
How did you tackle the need to split the real life and Susie’s depiction of heaven/pre-heaven to fit in
the same space?
Heaven and real live sharing space was the main challenge for designing this show. After a lot of chats with Melly, the director, I came up with the idea of the audience being able to see the real life through Susie’s eyes in heaven. We achieve this through a “magic mirror” that allow us to see the layers of the story being seen at the same time. We can see people walking in the cornfield at the same time that Mr. Harvey is making doll’s houses, at the same time that Susie is telling us her story from heaven.
What elements of the story led to your decision to include the use of the mirror?
Certain words and images popped out to me: earth, corn, snow, heaven, the underground, entrapment. With the help of the mirror we were able to create all the dimensions that this show needed as well as Susie floating in space, in heaven. We didn’t want to give the audience a specific way of seeing heaven, it had to be something that allowed the audience to imagine their own heavens for Susie.
What has been the biggest challenge with this set design?
Touring this set design is a big challenge. To make sure that it looks good in every single venue requires a lot of work a puzzle skills from creatives and production teams.
What made you get into set and costume design?
I studied Fine Arts and Opera Singing, and I didn’t have a clue that being a set and costume designer could be a job until I finished my five year degree.
For the last year of my degree, I went on an Erasmus exchange to Palermo, Italy and I had to choose similar subjects to the compulsory ones in Spain. So I swapped out technical drawing for set design. People in their last year had the opportunity to work on a professional show but because it was my first year studying that subject and I was on Erasmus they didn’t initially allow me to be a part it. My Italian back then was very poor so I couldn’t really defend myself. The only thing I could do was draw. So I found out when the 5th year students were presenting their concepts for the show and I started to draw.
The presentation day came, and even though I wasn’t invited, I went and showed my costume drawings for Le Carnaval des Animaux by Camille Saint Saen. They selected my concept, that meant that in a month I had to learn how to make 27 costumes, almost by myself, how to work in a team, how to position an orchestra on stage… and many other things. I was working 14 hours a
day… that was my life during while all my friends were partying, but I didn’t care I was so excited! The opening day of the show arrived and I stayed backstage looking at the audience (who were children). I spent the show looking at their little faces of excitement each time a new animal appeared.
After that day it was clear to me what I wanted to do with my life. After that I moved to London to do a Masters at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in Scenography. Both the city and my colleagues opened my mind…and here I am still…
What would be your dream book or film to adapt for the stage?
I would love to design a Wes Andersen stage version of any of his films!
The Lovely Bones runs from Monday 18 - Saturday 23 Nov.