Don Slater on HEDDA GABLER | Quotidian Theatre Company

Don Slater
Don Slater

Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of  Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen updates the action of the play to the socially relevant climate of D.C.’s Georgetown, 1963. The production runs October 24 – November 23. Quotidian’s resident lighting designer Don Slater reflects on the project:

As we enter October, I find myself in the familiar position of planning the lighting for Quotidian Theatre Company’s fall show.

Last year, it was the inimitable The Iceman Cometh, an enormous challenge wonderfully directed by Michael Avolio. Michael beautifully described the look of the show through a painting, McSorley’s Bar by John Sloan. With that image in front of me, I set out to paint a picture on the stage at The Writer’s Center. I think I succeeded in that effort.

"McSorley's Bar" by John French Sloan, 1912
McSorley’s Bar by John French Sloan, 1912

This year, Michael is again directing the fall show. He has taken the Norwegian classic, Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, and set it in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood in 1963. Hedda is just as challenging a piece as Iceman, but for very different reasons. While the backroom at Harry Hope’s saloon is a warm and welcoming place to its inhabitants, the Tesman living room seems much more like a stage for Hedda’s performances.

From left: Danny Brooks as McGloin, Ted Schneider as Harry Hope, and John Decker as Jimmy Tomorrow in QTC's 2013 production of The Iceman Cometh, lit by Don Slater.
Lighting by Don Slater in Quotidian’s 2013 production of The Iceman Cometh. From left: Danny Brooks as McGloin, Ted Schneider as Harry Hope, John Decker as Jimmy Tomorrow. Photo by St. Johnn Blondell. Click to enlarge.

As a lighting designer, I am often faced with making the characters on the stage look as good as possible, using the light to provide them with color and depth. For Hedda, I will be trying to move in the opposite direction, with somewhat flatter lighting. I hope to emphasize the starkness of the play and calculating nature of its central character. At the same time, I will use elements of the light to show time of day and significance of place. If I am successful, the audience may recall it later.

As with all QTC shows, I try to keep the lighting as unobtrusive as possible. Most people don’t have fancy lighting in their houses; neither do our people.

~Don Slater

Hedda Gabler w textQuotidian Theatre Company presents
Hedda Gabler
by Henrik Ibsen
Oct 24 – Nov 23, 2014

The magnetic and mysterious Hedda, stifled by society’s conventions, has captivated audiences since she sprang from Ibsen’s imagination in 1890. Her perplexing machinations find the perfect home in Washington, D.C.’s politically-charged Georgetown of 1963 in this new adaptation by Michael Avolio.

This production, directed by Michael Avolio, features Katie Culligan as Hedda, Brian McDermott as George, Sarah Ferris as Thea, Francisco Reinoso as Judge Brack, Christian Sullivan as Elliott Lovborg, Laura Russell as Aunt Julia, and Kecia Campbell as Berta.

 Show times are 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm Sundays, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, November 22.

Tickets are $30 regular price, $25 for seniors, and $15 for students, and can be purchased by cash or check at the door, online at Brown Paper Tickets, or by phone at 1-800-838-3006 ext 1 (ask for Quotidian Theatre Company). $15 per ticket for groups of 10 or more (email for reservations). Subscribers, email QTC or call 301-816-1023 for reservations.

All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD.
The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

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