The Curious Incident at The Ohio State University: Part Three, Scenic Design

scenic design for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
(Courtesy of OSU)

A novel by Mark Haddon, an Olivier and Tony Award-winning play by Simon Stephens with a London production at the National Theatre, a hit on Broadway, and now an interesting college production with media design by Alex Oliszewski, lighting design by Mary Tarantino, scenic design by William Ledbetter, and costume design by Julianne Nogar. The professional designers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which ran April 10-20, 2019, at The Ohio State University, comment on their work. Check out the media design and lighting design.

Scenic design by William Ledbetter

Live Design: What was your design concept for the show?

William Ledbetter: It was important for the set to emphasize the concept that Christopher is telling this story. We knew early on that media would play a large role in this effort. From day one, this process was the most collaborative design I have been a part of. Conversations about how media and lighting design would interact with the scenic elements began almost immediately.

The scenic design sought to create a very blank canvas on which and from which Christopher’s story could emerge. Chalkboards provided this blank surface in a youthful academic environment as well as a tactile contrast to the digital creations. Christopher (Connor Graham) was able to express his thoughts physically in illustrative form to the audience using chalk on any part of the set as well as magically through the beautiful work of the media and lighting designers that exploded beyond the set. As the details of his journey emerged, so did the gridded world around him evolved with scenic elements extending in surprisingly from the chalkboards.

Along the back wall, the chalkboards were arranged in 11 rows and seven columns. Mary Tarantino highlighted this choice to emphasize prime numbers by backlighting each of the prime numbered boards. The resulting pattern of light in the negative space between each board was quite beautiful.

LD: What were the biggest design challenges for this production as far as you were concerned?

WL: The chalkboard choice was not without consequence. Inherently low value, the slate-colored chalkboard paint really muted our initial projection demos. It took several sample iterations to find the balance of lightening the surface while maintaining the feel. In the end, the answer was adding several layers of white chalk dust in an organic, “hastily erased” pattern. This maintained a nice contrast of low and high value while providing a better surface for Mary and Alex to play with.  

scenic design for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Stay tuned for more on the costume design!

Full Production Team

  • Chair – Janet Parrott
  • Producer – Mandy Fox
  • Production Manger – Sherée Greco
  • Director & Co-Choreographer – Kevin McClatchy
  • Movement Director & Co-Choreographer – Jeanine Thompson
  • Scenic and Properties Designer – William Ledbetter
  • Costume Designer – Julianne Nogar
  • Lighting Designer – Mary Atantino
  • Sound Designer – Eve Nordyke
  • Media Designer – Alex Oliszewski
  • Technical Director – Chris Zinkon
  • Stage Manager – Dana Petersen
  • Dramaturg – Anna Guse
  • Assistant Director – Jason Speicher
  • Assistant Lighting Designer – Braden Held
  • Assistant Sound Designer – Curtis Myers
  • Assistant Media Designer – Kelsey Gallaher
  • Assistant Stage Manager – Jerrett Crowthers
  • Dialect Coach – Mandy Fox
  • Fight Choreographer & Assistant Movement Director – Jason Speicher
  • Ticket Office Manager – Carolyn Jakubczak

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