This would have been a very ordinary “director’s notes” you’d normally find inside the programme but due to the circumstances and the way you’re about to view this production, the notes are briefer and act more like a map.
Almost as an unconscious premonition of the days that were to come on a global level, when I’ve heard of the plot I immediately thought of staging this opera “inside” Pandora’s Box. So here we are, on a travers stage, divided in four spaces, each one belonging to one or two (in the case of the married couple) of the characters. The White Room (the bathroom) is Paxton’s room , the Dark Room (the dining room) is Clem’s , the Blue Room (the living room) is Fran and Julian’s and the Green Room (conservatory/outdoors) is Marco’s room .
Although all the characters have designated areas, they think they are in Paxton’s house. All the spaces are divided with black marking tape, just like you would see it in any stage rehearsal: this is to show how this is the border between fiction and reality, and most of the time reality will actually surpass fiction, as it did in our case.
As the audience we are invited to watch a social experiment in a laboratory on people who have no idea they are in the box and/or are being watched. Only one of the characters actually knows what’s going on and is aware they all are locked in and, although we don’t think they can see us, well, maybe we are seen and maybe we are also part of the experiment.
Just like in Sartre’s Huis Clos, I wanted to design a very “luxurious” interior, although with a “hipster twist” that has been deteriorating over the years, just like the characters themselves (like the set, they have rust and mould all over their costumes and faces). At times they all meet in one of the boxes or are pushed back into their own spaces for some time for reflection. I also wanted to stage an interval play that would accentuate the fact that, although the show might take a break for us, the experiment continues for the characters on stage. The interval contains four plays: four small insights into the four mind-spaces of each group of characters. Although there’s much more to the symbolism of my staging and design, I prefer to leave certain things to be felt rather than understood…
I’d like to thank you for watching and I hope to see you soon when we stage this production. Until then, keep safe.
Aylin directed and designed Pandora’s Box, The Opera Story’s fourth commission
Note: The planned performances of Pandora’s Box were postponed due to the health crisis, but we were able to produce a full video recording of the piece on the last day of rehearsals. This will be premiered on YouTube on Sunday April 26th at 8pm UK time. It is a pay-what-you-can event: please donate to the fund we set up to support the artists at https://theoperastory.com/support/ to receive the link.