Everything's International


“It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it.” — Steven Wright

September has long been our international issue, but I'm beginning to think this might be our last one. I mean, honestly, what does the word “international” mean anymore? Limiting what goes on around the world to one issue seems rather provincial at this stage of the game, not to mention impractical. Everybody's everywhere doing everything these days. American designers are in Europe, European designers are in America, and everybody's in Asia (or in Las Vegas, which is an entirely different planet, if not another country).

This year alone, we've featured projects from China and the UK on the cover; this month's Billy Elliott: The Musical coverage actually marks our third cover from the UK, following The Woman in White and Mary Poppins (look, it's just a coincidence, I'm not showing any favoritism to the UK just because my wife hails from there, honest). We've also covered the Australian production of Dirty Dancing and the Chinese production of the ballet Casablanca, among other international productions.

But after a while it gets a little hard to keep track of it all. Take this month's Q&A. Mick Potter, a respected sound designer in the UK, won the Olivier Award this year for his work on The Woman in White (yes, they actually give out awards to outstanding sound design on the West End, unlike the Tonys). Of course, Mick is currently in New York working on the Broadway production of The Woman in White. Does that make it an international production? Does that make him a Broadway designer? I need a road map.

Or how about our look at A Tivoli Fairytale, a theatrical tribute to Hans Christian Anderson in Denmark. The lighting designer is Danish, but much of the rest of the creative team is from the US, and the show is produced in part by Bettina Buckley of Wow!Works in Orlando. Thankfully, a lot of the lighting gear is from Denmark-based Martin, appropriately enough, so at least there's some continuity.

Our coverage of Live 8 takes it all to an even stranger level. While this “international” event — featuring free concerts in London, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Tokyo, Johannesburg, and Toronto — helped raised awareness for third-world poverty on a truly global level, the set, by Peter Bingemann, and the lighting, by Peter Barnes, were designed to be used at all eight venues. I'm not sure if that expands the notion of internationalism or collapses it.

The point here is that everything's international these days, whether it's the designer, the gear, or the production itself. And if that's the case, then is anything really international? Or is it all just local? My guess is we'll probably officially do away with this notion of an international issue next year and give it another title that better reflects our little global village. Or maybe it's time we expand our coverage to the entire galaxy. I here they're designing some mad shit on Pluto.