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Designing Hello and Goodbye

Working with John R. Wilkinson (Director of Hello and Goodbye) guarantees you an exciting design process – he is playful in his approach from the initial conversations. “I don’t want you to read the play” he says, “only the author’s notes, and tell me what you feel”.  John’s early approach to the visual development of Hello and Goodbye is psychological: he plays games, sets challenges and asks us questions about what makes us tick as artists.

This type of approach is helpful when dealing with a raw play like Hello and Goodbye. John constructs safe creative spaces where we can throw up the most ridiculous ideas until something lands and feels at home with the text. Some of the key design elements that you will see unfold in Hello and Goodbye came directly out of our first chat together. We worked backwards with this text – turned out all of the lights and started to construct Johnnie and Hester’s world through shadows and strokes of light.

As a designer I create environments that foster play, I’m interested in how characters inhabit and navigate spaces. The moment when you hand over a design to actors is possibly now one of my favourite parts of the design process, they imagine worlds beyond what is presented in the model. With Hello and Goodbye this is very much the case – Jo and Emilio have a beautiful and emotive approach to working with objects and props in rehearsals and quite often these objects can feel like characters in their world. It is my hope that the design offers an emotional insight into the suffering of the two characters, a feeling that permeates the space alongside Fugard’s words.

Laura Ann Price, Designer Hello and Goodbye