The Folger Spotlight

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District Merchants Set Design

Scenic Designer Tony Cisek has designed tens of shows at the Folger, including Mary Stuart, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Henry V. His assistant designer Paige Hathaway recently designed A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Read Paige’s insights into the design of District Merchants below and join us starting May 31!


From Paige –

“Tony Cisek’s design began with the period in which our new imagining of The Merchant of Venice is set; the Reconstruction Era in the wake of the Civil War. Reconstruction was a time of opportunity and monumental change after the horror and destruction of a war that had pitted brother against brother.”

“Our research process began with images depicting this era; cities that were ravaged by battle, buildings that were blown apart, as well as the construction of the federalist buildings in our capitol that have come to represent America. In particular, Tony was intrigued by the primitive temporary structures that were created to help aid construction, seeking to depict a clearly American structure in the midst of being rebuilt.”

“Additionally, he needed to create a space that was still, ultimately, theatrical. There was no attempt to disguise the structure of the Folger itself, as much of playwright Aaron Posner’s dialogue purposefully acknowledges theatrical conventions and the audience itself.”

Scenic model for “District Merchants”. Courtesy of Tony Cisek.
The “District Merchants” set during load-in. Photo by Rebekah Sheffer.

“Ultimately, Tony has created a design that carries the essence of a time of change and upheaval in our country while still allowing the play to firmly take place in the beautiful, rich space that is the Folger.”

Join us for District Merchants starting May 31 to see Tony and Paige’s work on stage!

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