One of my most recent commissions was for a UT New Works play titled “A Singularity”
You can watch the play this Thursday, April 13, 2017 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM (more info here.)
“A Singularity” is a student-written play by Carleigh Newland, Kelsey Linberg and Tess Jackson premiering on April 10th at the Cohen New Works Festival. The play follows a Syrian refugee, Amena, and her family as she comes of age, dreams of becoming an astronomer and finds a place in the world.
“I want this play to hit people and make it where these refugees are not just numbers on a page,” Linberg said. “They are real people. They laugh; they smile; they hug their mom; they get in fights with their brothers; they have crushes; they fall in love.”
Newland, the production lead and co-writer on the project, said she wanted to focus on the refugee crisis after spending last summer interning at The Refugee Project in Houston, a nonprofit that helps women refugee communities integrate into American society. She said she learned a lot and developed a deep passion to help raise awareness about the refugee crisis.
“A lot of people enforce these really negative stereotypes on (refugees),” Newland said. “They are just families wanting to pursue their dreams and trying to resume the lives they had in different places.”
Design-wise, this was a rush job. The theater department is fast, loose, and behind on their deadlines, so imagine four day turn arounds followed by weeks of silence. They would not give us the dates of the play until the day the poster was due!
The hijab was at points a source of contention. Directors are often interested in literal representation in their posters, aka this hijab on the poster needs to be the same color as the literal prop used in the play. However, the suggested color provided to me (Pantone 1245c known as “Old Yellow”, displayed on the left) was a nonstarter.
Let me be clear, I have no intention to misrepresent traditional Syrian clothing, but there were issues with the mustard yellow:
- This yellow was impossible to reproduce on a risograph print— the eco-friendly printing method I created these posters with.
- There was a legitimate concern that these head and shoulders would look like male genitals if rendered in that mustard color.
Our solution was to produce a muted red color that printed well and satisfied all concerns. I think that both director and designer got a lot out of this collaboration. Those directors will understand the choices made by future poster designers, and I have a new appreciation for humanity both near and far.
If you found this post interesting, or want to learn more about the production, I encourage you to see this play.