I don’t believe in illusion.
I believe in delusion that comes from the text and I try not to illustrate on top
of that. I am Riccardo Fernandez I am a scenic
designer. [MUSIC] I know this sounds like a
contradiction and wrong to say but I just don’t like scenery.
What I like is something that has it’s own visual power.
That allows the play to happen. I try not to get on top of the play.
And I don’t believe in that kind, you know, like proppy decoration.
I, I, I gravitate to something more based on the, the big, the big idea and how
it’s implemented by the actors. I was born in Cuba, but I grew up in
Argentina, Buenos Aires, and my father was an opera singer.
When I was a little kid all I wanted to do was sing opera, because I, I was
raised in that world. Then my voice changed.
I would say that by the age of 10 I really wanted to pursue a career in set
design. One of the operas that I saw when I, when
I was a little kid Was designed by Ming[UNKNOWN] who is the head of the
design program here at Yale. I think it was my first opera ever,
actually, and eventually I just gravitated, finished my undergrad and
applied to Yale an came to Yale and then I reminded Ming, my teacher, that I had
seen one of his operas in Buenos Aires. And he was shocked.
It was like, oh no, no that was horrible. It was like, you know, he did not like
the production. But I, I told him, listen, I was a kid
and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
After I graduated, all I wanted to do was opera.
But, little by little I, you know, I started entering the world of musicals.
I did Bring In The Noise, Bring In The Funk with George C.
Wolfe and then I did Parade with Hal Prince.
its just how things just you know life lead to meeting all these incredible
directors. So I was very, I’m very fortunate.
The first meeting with the director is always about how should we do it, why are
we doing this play right now. So you know little by little you start
formulating this 3 dimensional world. And there comes a point in time where you
have to, like, you know, draw it, give to the shop so they start building, but that
process can take up to, to to a year. And once you finalize the, the set
design, in model form, it’s only the first step.
It re-, everything changes by the time you get here.
Here we’re at the Yale Rep and tonight as the opening of Full Tessa’s Battle of
Black and Dogs. The director of this play is,uh, Robert
Woodruff. One of the things that we wanted to do
with this play is to be as simple as possible in a very aggressive way.
To depict a very cold and human world. There was something about.
This play, that has to do with the imposition of culture, I felt very
strongly that I needed to gut, to like really expose the room in a very honest
way. So, what I loved is that we could
actually take the stage out completely, and expose it, which you see right now.
And on top of it to create this layer of adding things, and it’s all structural.
It’s real steel i-beams, the floor is glass.
So when the actors are on stage, they can actually see through this other pit to
almost get the sense that there’s no that no-, nothing is grounded.
These are lost souls. In a very inhuman world.
What Robert Woodruff kept talking about, which is very interesting to me, was the
notion of light, characters talking about being outside the light, inside the
light. And the one thing that I knew, it is that
it was not stage light. It had to be something else, more brutal.
And little by little, we came up with this notion that’s almost like a boxing
ring with this massive weapon like hands. And that idea came from the notion of
thise, sewers. Because it;s part of the play.
So we inverted that idea, and they really put out a lot of light, to the point
where it’s blinding. And it creates this alienating uncanny
worlds. You see this, this, the smallness and the
loneliness of these people in this, in this inhuman cold space.
I’m working with a, a new play at the Atlantic theater that David Spornson is
directing. The most important part for me is being
in the tech rehearsal with the director and all the components.
Of the team. lighting, sound, clothing, everything.
It’s the one time when you put everything together.
When you, when you discover things. This play takes place during World War
II, in the Channel Islands. And it’s during the German occupation.
David, the director, asked that famous question, where are we, how do we present
this island? And he also felt that we, we needed to
feel the compression, the, the, the, the, of occupation.
And we did again a lot of research and I found these really disturbing massive
concrete bunkers that the German’s had and I felt somehow that, that needed to
be part of the world. And again exactly what we did is we
basically took everything out, and it’s a raw space.
But we, put this disjointed mass of concrete wall and this deck, this almost
like floating island that is collapsing and falling apart.
And it’s on a very extreme rake. Everything is angled, like destroyed,
like their lives have been turned upside down.
and I think it’s exciting, because it’s you walk into a room.
And the set is really not telling you much, except that it becomes alive when
you hear the first sound, the first words.
To do justice to the text, you have to creat an honoest space.
And sometimes it’s based on architecture, materials.
but mostly in, there’s gotta be some kind of idea that frames the piece.
I love the anxiety that it creates, you know, it’s an unknown, it, it’s really
terrifying, and you can’t preconceive anything.
So I love, I, I thrive that challenge. I think the day that goes It’s over.
I, I need that mystery. [MUSIC][MUSIC][MUSIC]