A Change of Scenery for The Pillowman Earns Designer a Tony Nod

Tony Awards   A Change of Scenery for The Pillowman Earns Designer a Tony Nod Providing Martin McDonagh's gritty tale of brotherhood and storytelling with its scenic design proved a harder task than expected for The Pillowman Tony Award nominee Scott Pask.

Scott Pask
Scott Pask

"The funny thing was I went back and we storyboarded through that whole play and you find that 90% of it takes place in an interrogation room and then the room next door, Pask told Playbill.com. "When we did this in London the first time, it [was in] a room that is a changeable space, the Cottlesloe [Theatre at The National Theatre of Great Britain]. We began thinking about it as an arena, so we'd be really on top of those guys the whole time. But then it never yielded the storytelling, the richness that we wanted to have visually. So, we abandoned that and went on to do an almost endstage in a space where they never did an endstage."

The change of staging paid off in Pask's eyes. "It became traditional in the way we told a story: have a curtain in a room that kind of creeped up and have this room sitting there and it became kind of about that; creating the permanence of the room and then have the magic of the storytelling happen in the room."

Tucked into the upper portion of the interrogation room's upstage wall, Pask created a playground for the imagination of the show's central character/ author Katurian (played by Tony Award nominee Billy Crudup). "I love the story sequences because a lot of work went into getting those up there and they happen so quickly."

One of the stories that take place in that space uses two forced-perspective bedrooms which (with the help of a lighting effect by fellow design nominee, Brian MacDevitt) supplies one of the show's bloodcurdling moments, acted out by the young Madeleine Martin. "There's always somebody screaming," shared Pask. "Even if I'm downstairs in the dressing rooms listening, I always wait and pay attention to the monitors, because I can always hear someone screaming."

Pask, who also provided The Pillowman's costume design, earns his first Tony Award nomination with his nod in the scenic design category. His work this season also included scenic design for the revivals of La Cage aux Folles and Sweet Charity. Other memorable stages Pask has created include Urinetown's environs, Take Me Out's locker rooms and the Botticelli inspired tiled "weeping wall" and overflowing pool at the spa on the stage of the 2003 revival of Nine.

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