Conceptual Design for God's Country by Steven Dietz
This show handles some very sensitive material, centering around the real life events of Alan Berg's murder and the subsequent trial. The show takes place in dozens of locations with no time in between transitions. This led to my design having the ability to transform the space by utilizing the furniture for multiple purposes.
While working on this project I went through many iterations, finding inspiration in children's playgrounds, graveyards, and courthouses. From my initial explorations I found my designs grounded in the openness of the set. I sought to keep the set open due to the number of actors on stage that flow throughout the show as well as to show that this world is not confined to the basements and cellars where we might typically imagine homegrown terrorists to reside. Their rhetoric is present even on college campuses and even written in the laws our courts work from.
The wall on stage left begins blank but becomes covered in a layer of graffiti promoting the white supremacist ideals the terrorists believe. This growth on the wall mirrors the way in which the actions of Robert Jay Matthews and his extremist "Order" grow and become more and more bold and harder to ignore. The warmth of the courthouse and beauty of the open blue sky contrasts with the dark and depressing content of the play. The warmth shifts to a choking humidity leaving Alan Berg's perch above the wall as an escape from the world around him. The open sky behind him helps to examine the way in which Berg would throw his opinions and thoughts into the ether of radio, not caring who heard.