City Ballet version of The Little Mermaid with Theatre Avenue projection backdrops

What Makes Theatre Show Design Work?

This week on Behind the Curtain, we talk to Atlanta-based theatre director and college instructor Jarah Botello. Jarah discusses her perspective on a show’s scenic design and what the important elements are to making it successful and stand out.

Video Length: 1:54 (1 minute, 54 seconds)

QUESTION: “What Makes a Show Design Really Work?”

JARAH: “I tend to be more of an abstract person [in relation to theatrical design], so for me it’s more about the feeling. Having a cohesive feeling of design and movement on stage. So I tend to think more in colors and shapes. And then, of course, some shows are just more realistic. So you have a really realistic set.

I did a children’s show with some of my college students called The Salamander Story. And it was creative and fun. It was all set underneath the lake where these little salamanders lived. Again, we had a very limited budget. And so we just used cardboard and whatever. Just filled the stage with fabrics and whatever we could find to really convey ‘under the lake.’

So I just think having a cohesive theme and feel really helps. I’ve loved seeing some of the images from Theatre Avenue from Little Mermaid. I just loved the way the show felt. Just to feel the magic of it or the darkness of Ursula’s cave. As a designer, as a director as you’re looking to incorporate the costumes with the backdrop, if it’s all just one big canvas—it’s just like painting screen pictures. That can be really beautiful.”

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