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Q&A with 2012 Season Illustrator Brian Rea

Los Angeles based artist Brian Rea is the former art director for the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. He has produced drawings and designs for books, murals, posters, music videos, and magazines around the world. His work has appeared in Playboy, The New York Times, Outside Magazine, Men’s Journal and Time among others and his design clients include Herman Miller, Kate Spade, Honda, Billabong and MTV. Rea has also exhibited work in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo and Barcelona. He currently teaches at Art Center.

How do you approach a project like this? How does it differ from your own personal work?

Though I was familiar with a few of the 2012 performances, I read through and researched each one again. Most projects of mine start with writing and list making – I circle different passages or jot down words that came to mind, other times I draw simple thumbnails that might capture a moment in the play. From these notes I begin to develop an idea of what the play is really about – or rather what I think the play is about. I try to make unusual connections between words in my lists – the hope is to find the tone of the performance as well as the simple human qualities of a piece that make it unique. From there I can begin to sketch towards creating that idea into an image. Whether art directing, illustrating or working on an installation, the process of arriving at an idea is the same.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

Difficult to answer but I do know what I like though and what I think inspires me and my work – here it is in list form: travel, nature, friends/family, simple moments, happiness, surf, love and great great stories.

Is there a difference for you between an “illustrator” and an “artist”?

Probably for others and for the application of the work, but I think the distinction between the two becomes more blurred each day.

This is the second time you’ve created illustrations for a Soulpepper season, the last round was in 2004. What’s changed for you as an artist since then? Does this series feel completely different?

I live in L.A. now (moved from NYC). Larger studio, better light, unique projects with different challenges – new space always shakes things up and I think that change to the work and my life was necessary and super helpful. There are similarities to the earlier series of posters conceptually, but I think these feel less restrained and maybe more playful and experimental. Hopefully people enjoy them.

2012 Season Illustrations:

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The Time of Your Life Photos – Trish Lindström

After taking some lovely rehearsal photos for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, actress/photographer Trish Lindström is back with a new photo set for The Time of Your Life. Both productions are on stage now.

Photoblog – Trish Lindström

Trish Lindström is an actress and photographer whose work has appeared in exhibits in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Stratford, and Toronto. The proceeds from these projects have been used to help finance sustainable infrastructure in Guatamala and Uganda. As an actress, Trish has appeared on stage across Canada, including roles for Stratford, Tarragon, and the Shaw Festival. Trish will be playing Titania/Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but preparing for her roles didn’t stop her from documenting the rehearsal process in photos:

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream Cast: Douglas John Alan, Derek Boyes, Ins Choi, Tatjana Cornij, Oliver Dennis, Michael Hanrahan, John Jarvis, Trish Lindström, Ken MacKenzie, Abena MalikaGregory Prest, Karen Rae, Mike Ross, Jason Patrick RotheryMichael Simpson, Brendan Wall & William Webster. Directed by Rick Roberts.

Oleanna Illustration – Chris Silas Neal

Artist Chris Silas Neal has been hard at work creating beautiful and evocative images for our 2011 season under the art direction of Anthony Swaneveld (Sandwich Creative). His first piece has already been featured on our season brochure, and today we are releasing his latest design for Oleanna.

Opening tomorrow, Oleanna is the incendiary and controversial play by David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) which tells the story of a series of meetings between a university professor and his young female student that lead to a debate on the abuse of power, political correctness, and sexual harassment.

Directed by Hungarian master László Marton and featuring Founding Member Diego Matamoros and Sarah Wilson, Oleanna promises to be an electrifying night of theatre. We will be featuring Neal’s work throughout the year, so check back often for more art from our season illustrator.

Click on thumbnail for high-res version

Building a Broken House – Lorenzo Savoini

Soulpepper Associate Artist Lorenzo Savoini has been a set, lighting, and costume designer on a number of Soulpepper productions, and was a graduate of the inaugural Soulpepper Academy. His previous work includes design for Neptune Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Theatre Aquarius, The Globe Theatre, GCTC, Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Blyth Festival, The Grand Theatre, and the Stratford Festival. Lorenzo lends his considerable talents to the set design of our upcoming production, Death of a Salesman.

Death of a Salesman - Set Design

Lorenzo Savoini's model set for Death of a Salesman.

“The house,” in the late fourties and going into the fifties, was without a doubt a symbol of the “American Dream.” It was supposed to be a time to plant roots and build lives. The Loman house is not only a symbol of the American Dream, but also of Willy himself. In our design the aging white house sits within a glassy darkness, in the same way Willy becomes more and more lost in the recesses of his mind. The dilapidated roof hangs above as a sad reminder of what could have been, seemingly teetering on the brink of extinction.

Death of a Salesman - Set Design

Another angle of the model, the suspended roof with projection screen in the background.

The environment is an attempt at representing the world from the perspective of Willy Loman; a blurring of his reality and his “daydreams.” We wanted the house to be terribly claustrophobic and minimal, and use projection to create expressionistic images from Willy’s mind. Also important was an attempt at a poetic overlap of locations and “time,” with his memory and his current reality creating a double exposure over one another. As we move through rehearsals we will be exploring, along with the actors, many ways to define and use the various locations needed. I am really looking forward to it!

Death of a Salesman - Set Design

Death of a Salesman opens at Soulpepper October 16.