Hand to God Set Designer Tells How He Made an Electrical Outlet So Realistic, Someone Tried to Charge a Cell Phone On It

News   Hand to God Set Designer Tells How He Made an Electrical Outlet So Realistic, Someone Tried to Charge a Cell Phone On It
 
It's been a curious week for Beowulf Boritt, the Tony-winning designer of Act One, who also designed sets for this season's On the Town and the upcoming Thérèse Raquin. That's because none of his 13 Broadway set designs since 2005 ever got the crazy headlines that went this week to his church basement set for the play Hand to God.

Perhaps the most innocuous and offhand part of the set, a humble traditional two-socket electrical wall outlet, was suddenly being discussed and debated virally around the world, owing to the simple fact that on July 2, an audience member who needed to charge his cell phone climbed up on the stage and plugged on in.

Hard to believe someone would do such a thing? The show's producers tracked down (cell phone?) footage of the deed:

Vanity Fair magazine interviewed Boritt, who remarked, “It’s not the easiest thing to go climb on stage. It takes a concerted effort—and I do it all the time.... It’s certainly the first time anyone has gone onto one of my sets and tried to use it as a real space.”

Boritt said the goal of the set was realism. “We did a lot of research as to what church basements look like. You look around a real room and there are electrical outlets, fire extinguishers, things like that.” Vanity Fair asked if the incident raises the bar for him as a set designer. “Does this give me a new standard?" Boritt asked rhetorically. "It’ll keep me from ever putting a toilet on stage.”

P.S. Despite its obviously impressive realism, Boritt's set for Hand to God was not nominated for a Tony Award. The award went to Bunny Christie and Finn Ross for their high-tech impressionistic design for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

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