The scenic design is a machine made to reflect the layered structure of society that is powered by the engine of labor. The central engine of the machine was inspired by towers as symbols of power, and images of abandoned steel mills. Like Blitzstein’s music, the scenic environment is about function, first and foremost.
The different levels of scaffolding represent the precarious stratification of class structure and the materials are utilitarian, with an emphasis on the real. For example, the central engine is housed in a surround constructed of OSB plywood, a inexpensive engineered material made of millions of small pulverized pieces of wood combined to make a strong and complete whole. The surround is clad in clear Corrugated Fiberglass Panels and commercially available scaffolding supports it all. The engine itself made of steel, built in two semicircular halves that rotate independently and reconfigure to form different locations in Steeltown, USA - from the massive factory of labor that functions like a treadmill, to a three story swimming pool for Mr. Mister’s home. The two concentric ring turntable system, with walkable and climbable structures on top, is operated a vista by the workers. By exposing this part of the performance experience that is typically hidden, we display the physicality of work as a theatrical and meaningful event. Down to the last detail, the design and materials of the set confirm the core values reflected in THE CRADLE WILL ROCK.
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