Satyagraha: Design

Set designer Julian Crouch and director Phelim McDermott worked together to create a set which reflects the complex layers and themes of the opera Satyagraha.

The team decided to choose humble materials to build up their theatrical world, referencing the living conditions of many people in South Africa at the turn of the century. Newspaper is used in the giant papier-mâché figures and base elements of the set such as the floorboards, reflecting the importance of Gandhi’s paper Indian Opinion. Set structures are made from corrugated iron, reflecting the typical building materials of this time.

Papier-mâché giants, created out of newspaper, dominate the stage

Corrugated iron is used to create set buildings.

Costumes, designed by Kevin Pollard, are a mix of Edwardian English and traditional Indian styles

The use of video projection in the production draws attention to the fact that developments in photography and film during Gandhi’s lifetime meant that he is one of the earliest historic figures captured on film. Video design company 59 Productions collaborated with Crouch to create images, key words and messages that are overlaid and projected onto the set in repetitive patterns, mimicking the repetitive phrases of Glass’ music. For McDermott, these techniques seek to suggest a rapid succession of thoughts that are abstractly related to the narrative action for the audience to consider in each scene.

The silhouettes of violent figures and of Martin Luther King are projected on to the back wall of the set

Newspaper is used on the set floor