In tackling the overall design concept for LCT3's production of A KID LIKE JAKE, Director Evan Cabnet said, "There were two points of departure that we had to figure out how to intersect. The first is that the play is very realistic, naturalistic and meticulous in its construction of a very real couple. That's on one end of the spectrum. On the other end, we have this fantastical gesture that is introduced in the play very late. So how can we reconcile those two things and honor each of them fully? That's the central design riddle that we had to solve."
Lighting Designer Japhy Weideman found ways to incorporate natural fragments of light as a way of honoring the realism (such as in the focused light around Alex when the play begins, which leaves the rest of the apartment in darkness until Peter comes home from work). When Japhy saw the set model (by Set Designer Andromache Chalfant), he encouraged her to make the large wall painting translucent, to help with the set changes. This allowed him to continually change the light on and through the painting during transitions, so that the audience could zero in on a more poetic shifting energy while practical set changes were taking place onstage. During tech rehearsals, an extension of this small thread ended up solving the moment of the "fantastical gesture"-Evan decided to slowly make the whole set glow in a way similar to how the painting glows during transitions.
Sound Designer Jill BC Du Boff was also deeply involved in the transitions. Sometimes, a sound designer needs to slam the audience into transition music, but for this play, Jill wanted to be sure that the audience had time to breathe, think about the previous scenes, and start to form their opinions. She deliberately kept the music from tipping toward the masculine or the feminine (which could sway the audience), by avoiding anything too harsh or too sweet. She chose music with simple instruments that avoided long low notes, as a way to lift the action and add a bit of lightness to the story.
And did you know that there are drawings on the set of A KID LIKE JAKE that were made by Andromache Chalfant's 4-year-old daughter? Get more of an inside scoop from Andromache about the design for A KID LIKE JAKE in this video!
Natasha Sinha is the LCT3 Associate at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater.