One of the things that separates the Crown Point Festival from other arts festivals in New York is that it is not simply a collection of plays. It is a well organized, seamless month-long event. The mission isn't simply to link various projects under one banner, but to artistically unify them--to allow each play, film, and musical act to have its own identity while existing within a larger artistic whole. One way we are looking to accomplish that mission is through the use of an extensive environmental design.
When the festival first debuted in 2004, we aspired to create this environment, but were unable to fully realize our vision for a myriad of reasons. Environmental design, however, is an element we always felt had great potential to unify the festival, to give it a feeling of wholeness and to make the theatre a home for the audience. This way an audience member that came to see one night's lineup might come to see a totally different collection of works the next week, but can still feel comfortable with the environment they are entering.
Determined not to let this year's festival fall short of the goal of comprehensive environmental design, our Executive Producer, Kelly Markus, set out to hire an environmental design team early in the process. Joel Lawerence is our Environmental Designer and Producer for the festival and Lex Liang is his TD this year. Together, they have designed a system that is at once elegant and simple, but also presents several lighting challenges.
We are going to take the Henry Street Settlement, a beautifully restored, small opera house built in the the 1910's and create a canopied space; a safe environment for the audience to escape from the noise and chaos of New York, a place where they can enter a field of color, images and sound. Attached are some photos of the space as it exists. In my next entry I will go into detail on how the canopy is going to work, and what my tentative plans are to light it....
Above these seats will be a grand drape that obscures the stage and ceiling from view. We will light and project into it creating a womb-like environment. A safe place for the audience to take part in the festival.