2016-2017 Season,  Cyrano

The Letter is the Play

by Robert Fuller, dramaturg

One of the surreal aspects of this performance of Cyrano is the set. To learn more about its creation, I talked with scenic designer, Rachel Bowerbank. Here’s a peak into her unique design.

(Designs Courtesy of Rachel Bowerbank)

First off, as this play is one of our traveling shows (and has a small performance space) a compact, easily mobile set is required.

With those restrictions in mind, Rachel began with an exploration of scenic design in past performances of Cyrano. In one of the plays most iconic scenes, Roxanne is on a balcony, as Cyrano woos her while impersonating Christian. Many times, this scene includes a curtain, or drapes in the scenery. Director Kris Jennings and Rachel loved this image and wanted to apply it to the set throughout the show. The drape of fabric connected to the importance of Cyrano’s love letter.

To fulfill this vision, Rachel designed a single drop, or sheet of canvas fabric, which is painted on both sides. On one side are words which allude to love, and water colored blots, matching the color pallets for the casts costumes, while the other side is a final letter Cyrano writes to Roxanne. As the play progresses, the letter is used as a table cloth, a flag, a funeral shroud, and more. It unravels with the play, allowing the audience to see more and more of the letter. Finally, at the end, the audience sees the entire letter, and sees how it perfectly captures Cyrano and his love for Roxanne.

(Designs Courtesy of Rachel Bowerbank)

Like what you see? To see the full effect, you’ll have to come and see the show!

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