- Little Lake Theater
Behind the Design of Season72
Updated: Feb 2, 2020
Welcome to our very first installment of #LakeTales. My name is Carina and I am an actor and graphic designer here at Little Lake Theater. I am so excited you're tuning in today and I hope you're ready for a lot of aquatic puns.
Although this is technically considered our "off-sea-son,(Oof! There it is... the first pun!) some of our busiest work happens January through March. If you've been to our little theater, you know it's put up a show one day, and then KAPOW - another one (sometimes two!) are on deck (#2). This means that we are always thinking several months ahead. There are flyers to mail out, a season brochure to create and one of my favorite jobs...figuring out what the season is going to look like!
For you newcomers, we usually put on anywhere between 14-16 shows a year. So when it comes to choosing a theme, it's a difficult job to find something that will work for all of them. Last year, Jena (LLT Artistic Director) threw in the word "scintillating" and we were immediately hooked (pun #3). If you were around last season, you may have noticed that our branding for the season followed a dark brick, marquee light, and sparkle theme. I really enjoyed that classic, moody look - especially for theater marketing. However, a new season means new shows and new shows mean new designs!
We usually finalize our season sometime in the middle of August after Jena reads a bajillion plays and it's approved by the board. So, from September through November, Jena, Patti (LLT Managing Director) and myself start working very hard designing the logos for for each individual show. The first step in the process is sitting down with Jena and Patti and talking through the shows. It goes like this:
Step 1: Depending on deadlines, I either get the whole script or a summary of it via storytelling or interpretive dance by Jena and Patti. Okay, maybe no interpretive dancing, but we still have fun!
Step 2: Take notes/quick doodles on what they want that logo to include.
Step 3: Do more research on the plays.
Step 4: Find the right design style for each show.
Step 5: CREATE
There are always a few scripts that stand out to me, which usually means they will be my easier designs to create. If you are familiar with the musical #Hadestown, the creator of the show, Anais Mitchell, said she can't take credit for her own song because it happened so quickly. (Interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foMPZggeAN0 33:00) I sometimes have similar feelings. I know what a show is, I know exactly what it is supposed to look like and it all just comes together so effortlessly. Last year, those shows for me were Bloomsday, Boeing Boeing and Over the Tavern. And then there was the holy grail of creating an original design for an original production. Thank you, The (Christmas) Lake Effect!!!
This season, Born Yesterday was the show that was the easiest and most fun to make. In Jena's description, she put My Fair Lady meets Guys and Dolls. I knew the show was political, I knew it was sofishticated (#4) I knew there was a blonde bombshell, and I knew a few important details that made up the show to include in the look. I thought it would be kind of cool to play off of Hans Christian Andersen's Princess and the Pea. Instead of putting the girl on a pile of mattresses, she was going to sit on a pile of books. For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, you can find the synopsis at https://www.littlelake.org/bornyesterday.
I can honestly say designing the logos are in my top three things I love to do at The Lake. Production photos and just getting to meet and be around everyone all the time make up the other two. To me, successful theatrical design is telling a story through your art. Much like lighting design, sound design, or set design, you set the stage, create a mood and tell the story. Logo design is no different. My goal is for people to have an initial impression of what they expect to see when they sit down to a show and maybe give the program another glance after the show and spot a few more details and have an "Ah-hah!" moment. For example, If you look closely in the Born Yesterday design, you can see the capital building (the play is set in Washington, D.C.) and Billie's glasses resting on the text.
The second design that I worked on was for our season opener: Amadeus. Would you like to be in on a little secret? The inspiration for the graphic was inspired by My Fair Lady. (Maybe that should've been our theme!) Jena and Patti gave me the description of Salieri manipulating Mozart and since I had just finished #BornYesterday , #MyFairLady was still on the brain. Amadeus kind of reminded me of the idea behind the 1956 My Fair Lady cast album cover with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. The one where God is manipulating Henry Higgins who is puppeteering Eliza. If you look at #Amadeus, that's kind of the idea behind that one; Salieri is at the top with his invisible strings controlling Mozart. While you're there (although it is hard to tell) the sheet music in the background is actually a selection from one of Mozart's compositions. I'll give you some time to Mullet over (#5). Now, when you come to see the show, you have a great conversation starter with your neighbor. You're welcome.
Now, I can go on and chat about every single design for the season, Trust me, I'd love nothing more, but before we close up here today, I want to talk a little bit about how we decided the season look. Like I mentioned earlier, it's hard to find a collective look that fits the majority of the shows. When I finished researching all of the shows, "scandal" was the word that connected them all. Harry in Born Yesterday was controlling Senators, The women in Little Foxes are very mischievous, nearly all the characters from Rumors and And Then There Were None were up to no good and George in Parfumerie was keeping secrets from Amalia! Patti and Jena liked a "Naughty" theme and we giggled about it in the hallway for about 15 minutes before a performance of Blithe Spirit. We were even going to make Arjun the face of Season 72 with him behind a closed door in some secretive way. Arjun, if you're reading this... maybe we will recycle the theme and use it next year, buddy! We were leaning toward a red and black theme to convey this look until one sleepy night on my couch, I woke up to a firework photo from a Google Images on my Chrome-cast which then gave me the inspiration to do a complete 180 and we ended up putting together"A splash of color & comedies & charisma.
And there you have it. Thank you for tuning into our very first installment of #LakeTales. I'm excited to share more stories with all of you as we move through Season72. For our next installment, I'm hoping to get together with some of our board members and chat about some behind the scenes action for our upcoming Gala: Step Right Up!
If you have any questions or suggestions as to what you'd like to read about on LakeTales, feel free to let minnow (#6) at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can talk about any-fin you want (#7) OK I'm Fin-ished (#8) with the fish puns.