One of the things that I do when preparing for a new show is, little-by-little, begin to build the world in my mind. I try not to get too specific, but I do create mood boards. These are just collections of ideas and imagery to guide the designers in the direction I’m visualizing. I depend upon the designers to interpret the nudges I give with mood boards using their own experience, technique, and knowledge to build a very specific world for the actors to live in. Mood boards are general enough to give an idea, but not so overwhelming as to stifle the creativity and talent of the designers.
Here is the mood board I put together for My Cousin Rachel set designer David Pierce at Good Company Players. Luckily, he and I were very much in sync with our ideas and once we sat down together we had a very productive meeting about what was possible given the set up of the 2nd Space thrust stage.
My Cousin Rachel – Set Spec
Interior mood. Estate in Cornwall. Earthier colors, highly masculine, heavy paneling and/or fabrics draping. If possible, when in darker times on the stage, the room should feel shadowy and claustrophobic. When in daylight, like a normal room that needs a “woman’s touch”. Emblematic of Rachel’s dual nature and the shadowy nature of Philip’s deepest character.
Features: large window capable of illuminating the room in daytime or with enough moonlight at night, staircase leading to second level showing one bedroom door and leading to one room offstage.
Ground level: three entrances – one to front of house, one to garden, one to servants area OR two entrances – one to outdoors, one to rest of house.
- Various chairs, a longish settee, a wingback next to fireplace. Footstool.
- Small tables, one tea table, perhaps a sideboard or cupboard/cabinet upstage for liqueurs
- Pillows and cushions, but a little depleted, like they need stuffing. We can add a few more as Rachel moves in and takes over a bit to give the impression that the place is seeing improvements.
- I’m considering having James and Seecombe come through and “dust” during scene breaks that require shifts.