The Process on Recent Posters

 

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A Minister's Wife

This is a new musical based on Candida, a play by George Bernard Shaw. The plot involves a young romantic poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who challenges the domestic bliss of a clergyman Morell, and his attractive wife, Candida. The poet is enamored of Candida and convinced that she cannot be content with the settled life she leads with the eloquent sermonizer and argues vehemently against the husband’s smug rhetoric. Eugene and Morell force Candida to make a choice between them. Candida, clear in her opinion and slightly contemptuous of the two men’s rivalry, chooses Morell.

My first idea was to show Candida, front and center, looking confidently and calmly out at the viewer. Behind her Morell advances threateningly on Eugene, while the poet takes a melodramatic, anguished pose.

The only thing interesting to say about how the image was arrived at, is that I used the head and hand of the nude woman in Manet’s Painting, “Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe” as the basis of the figure of Candida.

There was something pat and too simple about this composition. It didn’t’ tell enough about the complexity of the romantic triangle so I moved on to the second idea.

One of the elements of the story that particularly interested me is how much the household is emblematic of the appeal of the marriage – Candida and Morell are joined as much by their domestic history as by their romantic attachment. I felt I might evoke this in the poster by showing a Victorian interior with all its heavy furniture and fussy complication. It could be the environment that both roots the marriage in comfort and familiarity but also, to some extent, is a domestic cage.

Using photos of a previous production as my guide, I did a sketch showing a Victorian living room at the bottom of the rectangle, with Morell standing rigidly within the details of the room. He is also encircled by the shape of Candida’s skirt, her figure surrealistically dominates the composition. From the top right corner, Eugene Marchbanks, sails in on a metaphorical night sky, the intense poet threatening the harmony of the marriage.

The team at Lincoln Center Theater, including the director, Michael Halberstam, approved the sketch with two changes; Eugene should not look so ghostly and Morell should not look so passive.

Three photos; Ashley Dunn, who stood in for Kate Frye, who plays Candida, Bobby Steggert, who plays Eugene Marchbanks and Marc Kudisch, who plays Morell.

I rejected this art because the relative proportions of the figures was too even and the pink and sienna colors were
Discordant.

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