The Kids Are Alright: Young Designer To Watch, Anya Klepikov

George Bernard Shaw said that youth is wasted on the young, but we think that the young designers in our business are doing just fine, keeping busy and already impressing us with their arsenals of work. We talked with some established educators and designers and asked them to nominate some tyro talents, and we whittled it down to these six. When they make it to Broadway or the next U2 tour, you can say you knew it all along.

Anya Klepikov (Set, Costume, Puppet, Production Designer)

Home base: Queens, NY

Current project(s): Set design for The Glass Menagerie at Triad Stage, NC; production design for Hydrogen Jukebox at Fort Worth Opera; costume and puppet design for Rent with the Yale Dramatic Association.

Most notable achievements: Most recently, a glass-blown and transparent set for The Glass Menagerie, directed by Preston Lane at Triad Stage, NC, where Laura hobbles up a little Plexiglas ladder and reaches the glass menagerie above her head with a feather duster on a long stick; the characters live on a glass island.

A few years ago, I designed costumes for a one-hour adaptation of Ibsen’s Brand for two actors, directed by Mike Donahue. One actress had to constantly change between nine characters of various ages and genders, and I had to find every possible solution for an instant costume change.

When I started in this industry: Grad school in 2005.

How I got into this industry: I was always interested in the interaction of different media—literature, visual arts, music, and dance—and in the theatre, all of these languages have the opportunity to amplify one another.

Influences: My faculty at the Yale School of Drama, but especially the two women who have let me learn from their processes up close: Jane Greenwood and Wendall K. Harrington; designer of theatre spaces and energy Jean-Guy Lecat; director Tea Alagic, an expert of devised work; and my partner in theatrical crime, director Mike Donahue. And of course film: Fellini, Bergman, Jarmusch, Almodóvar.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: Most advice has something valuable in it.

Best advice I’ve ever heard: “Don’t be so serious; there’s a reason they call it a ‘play.’” —Ming Cho Lee favorite thing about the production industry: I enjoy the lack of routine, and I love collaborating with inspired artists.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: The makeshift magic of a light box moon—once, for a student play at Princeton, I designed a 3' light box of a copper penny moon with Lincoln’s head on it. As the theatre went dark, it was slowly—with jerks and squawks—pulled out across the “sky.”

Plans for the future: I am crazy about Verdi and dream of production designing Il Trovatore. I would also love to work on early Eugene O’Neill, as well as A Moon for the Misbegotten. I have a pet project I am slowly pushing forward, a short Lorca fairytale, Don Perlimplin and His Love for Belisa in the Garden, where human actors are dressed as colorful paper puppets and their movement is a fusion of puppet movement, flamenco choreography, and 18th-century mannerisms, accompanied live by a Spanish guitar.

Other interests/side gigs: Exploration of alternative performance spaces, showcasing musicians onstage, classical piano, flamenco dance, fishing on Cape Cod.

Awards, honors: Sets and costumes selected for Opera America’s Inaugural Director-Designer Showcase 2009; Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Costume Design 2008; Leo Lerman Graduate Fellowship in Design 2008.


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