Indian American scenic designer Neil Patel says that he “was inspired by Do Ho Suh’s fabric buildings” to recreate 1938 Britain on Broadway for the Conway family in the play An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestley.
“They made me see a way to create a ‘ghost’ room of Act 2 which could live simultaneously with the room from Act 1,” Patel said, referring to the fabric buildings of Do Ho Suh.
“The simultaneity of the two spaces from different moments in time would illustrate in a powerful way the idea of time put forth by Priestley in the play. Instead of a literal change in the aging and decor of the room as is indicated in the text we found an exciting and theatrical way to go from Act 1 to Act 2,” he added.
However, not every task is as easy to complete as it seems.
“The challenge was to fly in a room for Act 2 in front of the Act 1 room that would appear light and devoid of structure elegantly and silently which was key to making the transitions between Act 1 and Act 2 and the final shift of the play poetic and non-technical in feeling, but very, very technical in execution,” he said.
Patel was thankful that he had the “teams of Aurora Productions, Showmotion Scenic Studios and the uncompromising staff of the Roundabout Theatre to assist” him with the challenged he faced.
Patel added that “as we discovered the unanticipated problems in technical rehearsals, everyone rallied to find the solutions. I was pleased and humbled by the result as it reminds me that no matter how good the conception without an impeccable execution the audience cannot understand and most importantly feel and experience the intent,” expressing his joy for being part of the project.