"Every time I am asked to design scenery for plays I find myself starting from zero," says A Midsummer Night's Dream's scenic designer Sean Ward. "My background is not in theatre," he admits.
Scenic design in theatre has a long history of artists trained in the visual arts, architecture, and related fields. Ward, who lives in Wantagh, has a BFA in painting from Syracuse University and MFA in painting from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently a Program Manager at ArtsConnection, a nonprofit that brings the arts to public school classrooms.
This is Ward's first time designing Midsummer, although he has seen the show before: a 2000 production that featured LITC's Kevin Mundy, and Ian Sullivan. Ward did not know these actors at the time.
His design for Midsummer accentuates the mysticism and magic of the forest setting, but while the play is set outside of Athens, Ward’s inspiration comes from the east. His design combines two traditions from Japanese culture: the tenugui towel and ikebana.
“Tengui towels are versatile sheets of patterned cloth that are used as towels, headcoverings, and also as doorway entrances. I liked the idea of moving through a simple piece of cloth to enter a new space.” Ward says the motion implies a kind of magic and transformation.
Ikebana is a form of flower arrangement, an art that Ward himself practices. It is a disciplined art form that seeks to unite nature and humanity. While determining the arrangement, the practitioner observes silence and focus.
“I felt these two things (Tengui and Ikebana) fit Midsummer well—for its setting, and also how silence is recognized in the comedy.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs June 19-21 in Bellmore, NY. Tickets are on sale now; click here for more information.