The Space as a Canvas

Artist and Designer Casey Alexander Smith is the scenic designer for our upcoming Flash Operas show at Symphony Space on May 5 and 6, 2017.  Casey comes to this project with a strong sense of how opera plays in our society and how to contextualize it anew.  Here are some of his thoughts from planning the look and feel of the Flash Operas.

Opera traditionally had a significant niche in society. Elements of grandeur and allure have made it enjoyable for many. For some, however, it resembles a sophistication and timelessness that can be foreign. Conceptualizing a design that pays homage to the mysticism of the art form while presenting the work in a contemporary, easily digestible format was a challenge. The task lead me down paths I hadn’t explored before and took tolls on my process. When it was all on my drafting table there were two distinct themes that stood out for Flash Operas: the history associated to a grande drape coupled with a continuity in aesthetics. In actuality this project involves six distinct stories in a short matter of time. So in theory it requires six different designs. With my concepts I envisioned the space as a canvas and I wanted the stories to illuminate that canvas.

Coming from a visual arts background this gave me an instant connection to modern artists like Jackson Pollock and Keith Haring. Both of them played with the simplicity of the “canvas” and the rhythm of media as it traveled—sometimes out of the artist control—across the canvas. To this regard each piece will exist within its own framework telling the quick yet important flashes that it had been composed to do. Some of these stories rely on simplicity and lack of color while others emphasize the importance of variety. In collaboration with the director, Rob Reese, and the costume designer, Fay Leshner, we shaped a production that will represent a collection of vibrant and poignant vignettes.

-Casey Alexander Smith