Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Poster

rosencrantz-guildenstern-poster-design.jpg

Every summer our New Media/Marketing Coordinator Shane Burkeen rallies the troops to design the artwork for the upcoming season.  We had a chat with Shane about the new look for the season and the design for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Shane: There were reasons why we changed our name from Tennessee Repertory Theatre to Nashville Repertory Theatre. One reason that stood out the most for me was how proud we are of our Nashville Actors and Designers. We wanted our images to bring our Nashville talent front and center. Our audience may love a certain production on our stage, but the people behind the production make the lasting connections. That's why each of our posters have two actors from every show, except for A Christmas Story which I'll tell you about in another post (spoiler alert: that's not the Leg Lamp in that poster, it's a person).

15-16 Season Images
15-16 Season Images

I start the design process off with a bunch of meetings: learning the feelings/emotions our Producing Artistic Director René D. Copeland wants our audience to connect with, Gary C. Hoff about the set design, Trish Clark for the costume design, Evelyn Pearson for the prop design, photographer Justin Sienkiewicz, and the Audience Development team to share my research.

Some of the ideas that  René mentioned that caught my attention for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead are the two characters are trapped onstage almost the entire show, they begin to wonder if they have free will to make their own decisions, and the playfulness of the two main characters. I immediately thought of a playing card. The characters are trapped in the bounds of the card. A playing card is meant to be played by someone else, the card doesn't play itself (it's a tool in a bigger game).

Patrick Waller Rosencrantz
Patrick Waller Rosencrantz

Next we plotted out the photo shoot. I have to say this was, in all sense of the phrase, a team effort. Costumes pulled this amazing royal blue doublet to interject color into the image that also fit both Matt Garner and Patrick Waller. The guys cracked us up the whole shoot!

We initially thought the characters should be holding drama masks (a commentary on the meta-theatrics) or a skull (to pull in the Hamlet story). After combing through the photos from the shoot we liked the strong tie in of the skull to the iconic moment in Hamlet.

Patrick Waller Matt Garner
Patrick Waller Matt Garner

Pulling from the ties with Waiting for Godot, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern start to blend together. This was probably the hardest part of making this image. I ended up digitally sewing pieces together to give a seamless transition between the two. The two images above were the base of I used to make the final poster image. As you can see from the image below these photos went through a transformation.

rosencrantz-guildenstern
rosencrantz-guildenstern

Figuring out where Patrick ends and where Matt begins took a bit of work. As you can see from the rough draft below not all ideas work out right.

R&G Draft
R&G Draft

I knew I had the right version when I invited Hannah Carpenter, our Administrative Assistant, in to see and she started laughing uncontrollably. An audience member stopped me in the lobby on opening night of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and told me she had framed the poster and had it hanging in her home. I can't tell you how happy that made me! I LOVE working at The Rep, I hope it shows in my work.

To learn more about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead please click here.