Take a Look Behind-the-Scenes of Book-It’s “Solaris”

Tony Beeman

Book-It Repertory Theatre will stage Solaris June 17 through July 9. The new play by David Greig is adapted from Stanislaw Lem’s novel of the same name. Solaris is a haunting story of love and loneliness on the edge of space that asks the big question: What happens when humans encounter, for the first time, a truly alien intelligence?

Check out some behind-the-scenes photos and get your tickets now to be transported to a space station right in Center Theatre.

Set Design by Jessica and Ben Radin

Scenic Designers (and newlyweds!) Jessica & Ben Radin have worked together to design a space that can, at times, feel wide open and therefore enhancing the characters’ feelings of loneliness; yet at other times can feel confined and oppressive to reflect the characters when they are in that emotional state.

Working with props designer Robin Macartney, this space station will feel very “lived in” — with  used food containers left out, photos and letters from home crookedly thumbtacked to the walls, half-finished projects accompanied by tools and scraps of metal and wire strewn about, and stained coffee-mugs and used vape cartridges scattered on surfaces.

The world of Solaris is, oxymoranically, a world that can be described as both high-tech and analogue. This is a retro vision of the future, reflecting the technology that was once common to us: scuffed CDs on the floor, intercoms with knobs and dials, and messages filmed on VHS tapes.

The in-progress set build and painting. PHOTO BY JOHN BRADSHAW
Costume Design by Taya Pyne

Costume designer Taya Pyne has provided scientific “jumpsuit” uniforms for each character aboard the space station, yet each one will be individualized with personal touches, such as patches and other alterations. Costumes will also have various levels of distressing, depending on how long each character has been on the space station, as well how careless a character might be while eating, drinking and working.

Costume design board. PHOTO BY TAYA PINE
Lighting, Projections and Video

Lighting designer Dani Norberg has been exploring different “feels” for the lighting aboard the space station, including the sterile feel of functional and industrial lighting, but augmented by the glow from the planet below, which alternates between deep red and deep blue (possibly, and inexplicably, depending on how the planet is feeling).

Projections Designer Ahren Buhmann will be contributing to these moods-made-out-of-light by providing an extra dimension of projecting images and textures onto the set, and video content creator Josh Aaseng has filmed personal video diaries as recorded by the characters in the story.

Sound and Music

Sound designer Kyle Thompson will be creating ambient sounds, such as the hum of the machinery that keeps the space station operating, that will permeate the space on an almost subconscious level. In conjunction with non-rhythmic music reflecting the alien nature of the environment below, he has imbued our theatrical space with these haunting tones, enhancing the loneliness (and sometimes oppressiveness) of the space station. This show is employing 22 speakers for this atmospheric element of the show’s overall design, which is 14 more speakers than a typical Book-It show!

The Artists

The cast includes Jay Woods* (fresh off directing Sweeney Todd at the 5th Avenue Theatre) as Kelvin; Brandon Ryan as Snow; Alexandra Tavares** as Sartorius; Ian Bond** as Ray; Jim Gall** as Gibrarian; and Zoey Matthews and CC Dula alternating as The Child.

The show is directed by Book-It’s former Artistic Director Gus Menary. The creative team also includes Jessica & Ben Radin (Scenic Designers), Dani Norberg*** (Lighting Designer), Kyle Thompson (Sound Designer), Josh Aaseng (Video Content Creator); Ahren Buhmann (Projections Designer), Taya Pyne (Costume Designer): Robin Macartney (Props Designer); Harry Todd Jamieson (Fight Director), Shay Trusty** (Stage Manager), Nicola Krause (Assistant Stage Manager), Selina Senn (PA & Covid Safety Officer) and Lillia Nelson (Youth Cast Coordinator).