Why the 1950’s: a peek into Water Sings Blue’s time setting

by Spencer Duncan, dramaturg

Design courtesy Sarah Stewart.

If you’ve seen Water Sings Blue, you may have been intrigued about its costumes, props, or choice of music. Why design this show to be reminiscent of the 1950’s?

It’s simple. The 1950’s are often remembered with nostalgia as a carefree time, when life was less complicated and a child’s world less scary. White-picked suburbia was marketed as a place for young families to thrive, as can be seen in this 1957 promotional video for RedbookWhile the reality of this nostalgia is debated, and likely depended on who you were and where you grew up, there is much truth in it.

Design courtesy Sarah Stewart.

According to American psychologist Peter Gray, the 1950’s provided children with an unrivaled atmosphere of play which boosted self-esteem and mental happiness, better preparing kids for adult life. In Gray’s mind, play is essential to human development, and gives children the ability to learn how to cope with negative emotions such as anger and fear.

This is why Water Sings Blue is reminiscent of the 1950’s. By transporting audience members, the majority of them children, to a carefree holiday they can play along in, we hope to give them a sense of security and creative freedom they can later draw upon when life’s sailing gets rough.

Photo courtesy Monceau, https://flic.kr/p/4tmHXq

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