Visual design is a critical factor in the composition of every Akropolis Performance Lab piece. We are very deliberate in the selection of each element brought in to enhance both the work of the actors and the experience of the spectators, with particular attention not only to cohesion within the production itself, but consistency to the aesthetic principles we’ve developed over nearly 20 years and which form a foundational, minimalist through-line for our entire body of work.
The Glas Nocturne at CATAC Balch Street Theatre Akron OH (Photo: Annie Paladino, 2015)
For the last 10 years or so – in addition to directing – I have acted as scenographer for our productions, in collaboration with our Artistic Associates; determining the scenic, lighting, and costume designs. This throws off some people, who question why no designers are credited, and who wonder if that means we just pull these things together with less emphasis than we place on the acting and dramaturgy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Every detail of an APL production is a carefully considered aspect of the dramaturgy, approached with equal importance.
This year, we are bringing in designers once again for 730 Steps, prompting me to put into writing those guiding aesthetic principles, so they can be shared and understood by our new partners. And while they are specifically geared toward design in this form, these are the same fundamental principles which guide all aspects of our creative work.
Ecce Faustus at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Ballard WA (Photo: Mark Zufelt 2016)
20 Principles for APL Design
- Use as little as possible, but of the best quality possible
- based on money, availability, & time
- The space is always what it is. The design happens within and in relationship to the-space-itself
- Exploit the difficulties and flaws, don’t try to hide them
- Don’t provide the spectator with answers. Give them just enough to recognize the questions and draw their own conclusions
- Use Real Objects, unless unobtainable
- Fabricated Objects should be made with the highest degree of craftsmanship and “real world” permanence
- Theatrical Facsimiles are not acceptable
- Everything on stage should be practical. Question anything that is purely decorative
- Everything should be able to serve multiple functions
- As it is
- As it could be
- As it has never been before
- No electronic or recorded sound effects. All sound created by the performers
- No Technical Special Effects (fog, strobe, video projection, etc). Whenever possible “stage magic” should be created by the actor or the architecture
The Glas Nocturne at APL Downstairs Studio, Lake Forest Park WA (Photo: Joe Patrick Kane 2015)
- Shadow is at least as valuable as Light
- Before using gobos or other effects, determine whether the same result can be produced by an actor or the architecture interacting with the light
- If not, What is the intent?
- is it indispensable?
- Use unusual angles
- Use color sparingly, to maximum effect
- Use everything sparingly, to maximum effect
- Costumes should never dictate what an actor cannot do
- Actor insight is crucial regarding costumes
- Light, set, and costumes should stimulate the spectator to develop an understanding of people, place, and atmosphere
- Light, set, and costumes should stimulate the actors toward always greater awareness and precision
- Light, set, and costumes should provoke the actor, not solve their problems for them
- No principle is inviolate
- Once conceived, question everything
Seneca’s Oedipus at WSFGC Garden House, Seattle WA (Photo Julia Salamonik 2006)
Raskolnikov (Tyler Polumsky) Murders Lizaveta (Annie Paladino) (Rehearsal Photo by Joseph Lavy)
Mark your calendars!
Friends, supporters, and media folks, we are very excited to announce that 730 Steps, (an original adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment), will have its premiere run of performances
July 14 – 29, 2017!
In a move which we expect will once again defy preconceptions, 730 Steps will be produced in the Isaac Studio Theatre at Taproot Theatre Company, marking the first time since 2004 that APL has produced a full-scale work in a traditional theatre space.
Our work has always been developed with sensitivity to the relationship between the performance art and the specific architecture it inhabits. Over our history, we have developed an approach to creation that we consider “site responsive;” creating work that is at once both very specifically detailed in its performance score, and flexible enough in execution to interact organically with each unique space we perform in.
Over the years, we have produced in a Beacon Hill historical estate house, the Volunteer Park Water Tower, a church sanctuary in Ballard, and the basement of our own home. We have also produced in the On the Boards Studio, CHAC, Freehold and The Chamber Theatres (once upon a time in the Oddfellows Building), and Theatre4 at the Center House Armory.
730 Steps is developing into a very theatrical piece and we’re thrilled to have been invited into Taproot’s beautiful Isaac Studio Theatre to bring it to you!
Wherever we perform, rest assured the artistic principles, vision, and commitment to austerity and intimacy that define our work as uniquely APL will continue to guide us without compromise.
So, mark your calendars!
(based on Crime and Punishment by FM Dostoevsky)
Produced by Akropolis Performance Lab
July 14 – 29, 2017
Isaac Studio Theatre
Greenwood, Seattle WA
We are so excited to participate in Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG event on May 3, and we hope you are, too! Seattle’s GiveBIG is the most successful in the country. It is thrilling to see the impact we can make in just one day by working together.
#GiveBIG today through May 3, and your support for Akropolis Performance Lab will be stretched by Seattle Foundation pooled funds. And as an additional bonus, the first $1,000 in contributions to Akropolis will be matched 100%! – Please help us meet this goal.
As you know, we primarily produce our work in non-conventional or found spaces. We believe this increases authenticity and enriches audience experience. It also requires us to be fully self-sufficient, mobile, flexible, and nimble — for many productions we must set up and strike our set and tech every night! To fulfill our production plans for the next two years while continuing our commitment to this mobility, we must acquire some new equipment.
Money raised during GiveBIG will fund as many of these items as possible:
- Risers for 2nd-row audience seating
- Lighting fixtures (light board and 6 instruments with safety cables, barn doors, gel frames, gels)
- Rigging for lights
- Pipe & Drape
- Road cases to transport and protect our equipment
And you don’t have to wait to make a pledge and risk missing the BIG day. You can schedule your donation today, and Seattle Foundation will process it automatically on May 3! To pre-schedule your gift, visit our GiveBIG profile page HERE.
We hope you will make a donation to APL’s GiveBIG campaign and see your dollars stretched through the power of community.
Thank you, as always, for your friendship and support of our work!
We are so proud to share this performance review of The Glas Nocturne, which is published in the current issue (68.1) of Theatre Journal!
Thank you to Jeanmarie Higgins and #theatrejournal for venturing out to our corner of the country and giving APL’s work critical consideration as part of the international theatre conversation.
From the author: “What started as a quick trip to Seattle to see some friends and some theatre turned into a Theatre Journal performance review of Joseph and Zhenya Lavy’s The Glas Nocturne. I love writing about Akropolis Performance Lab; the work is always virtuosic, irrefutable, and strangely joyful.”
READ THE REVIEW FREE ON ACADEMIA.EDU