Death of a Salesman/Caird Studio/Conceptual Design
The set design is a creation of Willy Loman’s back yard - the place where he makes his final deal with Ben, as well as the place in which he is constantly trying to build and rebuild both his house and family, whilst feeling trapped and closed in by the apartments on either side. The dirt floor is his patch of America that he is unable to grow anything in or build anything upon. The elm tree, a symbol of masculinity and support (which Willy boasts that Biff could chop down in an effort to impress Ben) is dead and broken, its branches becoming a hindrance to the characters rather than providing support and shelter.
The walls that hem Willy in fulfil the sense of contradiction surrounding the views of space within the play- being both real and entrapping and simultaneously transient, fading in and out like his memories. The lightbox surrounding the walls continues this contradiction, presenting a boundless and infinite light whilst also creating another wall within which Willy is enclosed (in the same way that the capitalist dream offered to him is both full of boundless possibilities and ultimately traps him).
Light plays a key part in the set, with changes in colour for changes in mood, flickering as Willy’s memories become disjointed and using warmer and sepia tones for his memories of the boys growing up.
The two solitary chairs are the only furniture for each scene, allowing for fluid scene transitions whilst the sparsity reflects the fact that Willy never owns, builds or grows anything himself. The lack of material objects places extra significance to the small number of props - rubber tube, spade, recording machine and football - that are key to Willy’s journey.
Set and Costume Designer- Abby Clarke