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by Hedgebrook Guest

4-23-15 Blog_keyhole-drawing_webI am a very visual thinker.

Whatever I am working on, be it a poster, a logo, directing a show, having a conversation with a friend, brainstorming a solution to a problem—I think in pictures.

Sometimes the pictures are very abstract and representative—shapes, lines, colors—and sometimes they are very specific—“I see these in purple, with pink polka dots and bunny ears on top.”

4-23-15 Blog_design-process_webI rely heavily on these visuals, specifically in my design work, because they are the driving force behind the beginning of any project which could be the most important step in my process.

With the poster design for In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (written by Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival Alumna Sarah Ruhl) there is already a lot of source material that exists. There are the words of the play themselves, printed in ink and unchangeable (unless we ask the publisher for written permission 😉 ), there are the thoughts of the director on the show—mood, themes—and there are Victorian-era advertisements and posters to research.

4-23-15 Blog_lightbulb_webTwo of the major themes of this show are electricity and the physical space being two separate rooms. I was intrigued by how the shape of the lightbulb and the shape of keyhole could play together.

The first visual that stuck with me was looking through a keyhole at an illuminated lightbulb—a reference to the separation of space in the play, as well as a nod to the time period being the dawn of electricity, and the “illumination” or personal and sexual awakenings present in the storyline. To add a little punch to the visual metaphor director Ned Farley and I talked about an electric cord snaking out of the keyhole.

I’m not afraid of a good pun. 🙂

4-23-15 Blog_keyhole_webFun Fact: I often consider creative work to have it’s own intentions. What I mean by that is a piece of work, a poster, a logo, has it’s own life force and has made some of it’s own decisions about how it’s going to come into this world.

While I loved the concept we agreed upon (and still think it could be a successful piece), every step I took to actualize the concept was poked by something that felt off—which told me it was time to change direction. Sometimes we have the unfortunate element of linear time driving our actions more than we would like to, and the original concept was not going to be executed successfully in the time we had.

So, I stuck to what I knew worked. It was very important to me to keep the Victorian-era visual stylization, because otherwise we were misrepresenting the play. It was important to keep Ned’s vision of the show in tact…

“I really see this play as a comedy of manners (a la Oscar Wilde or Noel Coward) where the comedy comes from the foibles of the still somewhat puritan ethos of the Victorian Era…Freud’s work is pushing the boundaries of proper society where the all-important “face” of respectability is hiding quite a large amount of “behind-closed-doors” activity, including sexual escapades among the well-to-do, séances, and the publication of women’s erotica (mostly written by men). I see this play in particular as a voyeuristic glimpse into what is happening behind the curtain (or closed door in this case) – a metaphor for what is happening in this not-so-sanctimonious Victorian Era.”

… and it was important to keep the element of separation.4-23-15-Blog_Gibson_web2

The same visual elements stayed in play—the keyhole, the lightbulb—but the arrangement of them shifted and was built upon to create a piece that told more of a story.

4-23-15 Blog_poster-final_webI returned to my source material, specifically the visual inspiration. Using the antique illustrations, including a vibrator patent (dude, cool!), gave me a lot of freedom with color. I wanted something rich, bold, eye-catching, and complementary to the content of the piece.

The majority of the poster is covered in a pink that is often considered to be a gentle and innocent color, much how the women of the Victorian-era were expected to behave socially. Meanwhile the focal point, the keyhole, is a much more commanding color. This feels symbolic to me, since the separation of space that I keep talking about is very inherent to the conflict in the show and could be considered a catalyst for some of the brash and fiery behavior that occurs.

What I love about this piece is that the viewer can ask their own questions and make their own decisions —specifically, what is the woman thinking? And the only way you are going to have any closure is to come to the show to find out!

Plus, the keyhole illustration looks super vaginal, which I love…. love, love, love.

Although… there is much more than meets the eye AND women aren’t the only one’s being vibrated in this show. 😉


About the Author:

Kathryn Lynn Morgen is owner of KLMXYZ Creative Communications (link: http://www.klmxyz.com/), a one-woman marketing and design company in Langley, WA. She works as Program & Production Manager of Whidbey Children’s Theater and is co-organizer of Whidbey’s Queer Pride Parade (link: http://www.queerparade.com/) She also paints and writes and acts and shops at Good Cheer. Twitter: @LadyKathrynLynn

This piece originally appeared on the OutCast Productions blog and can be accessed here.

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) runs May 8-23. >>Purchase tickets!


Join us for the 18th Annual Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival! Performances are May 17 on Whidbey Island and May 18 in Seattle. >>More info and tickets.



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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.

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