Reed College Theatre

Scenographer’s Note

Almost nothing about designing a three-part, interactive, digital multimedia online Covid Rhinoceros was what I anticipated. The very idea of the “space” the play would take place in had to be conceived in a new way. The idea of “where” the play would take place was an initial question that rendered most of the creative team not only silent but stunned. How could we not only have to conceive of a play, a piece of art, when we were also tasked to reimagine the idea of what “where” a play could take place? And yet we did. 

In the process, not only did we conceive and reconceive where a play could occur, but also what “live theater” means, and how performance and interaction can be excitedly reimagined thanks to the constraints of Covid, and not just in spite of them.

Designing, if that's the right word, this production was an exercise in anticipation. With each decision came a plethora of new questions and consequences. I admitted regularly that I didn’t have the answer, that I, like my students, was practicing this specific artform for the first time. It was humbling and exciting. 

I’m a designer, but on this project sometimes more of a hustler or a counterfeiter. The world we live in right now said we couldn't have the theater, we couldn’t have the costumes, we couldn’t have anything we were used to, so we went around the world we’re in,  to radio and to comic books and to asynchronous film. We made a world for a play and made a world for ourselves, where we could have everything they said we couldn’t have.

And like the play, which addresses issues of growth, spread and accumulation, we as a company accumulated new methods, new tactics. Things we didn’t know, we know now; we didn’t change into rhinoceroses, but we did change.

This company conceived of something new. We made something I’ve never seen before, and I’ve never made before. In that way we moved the line.

-Caitlin Cisek

Below: some process pics from scenographer Cait Cisek's act 2 slideshow