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  • Writer's pictureBroadway Beat

Set Designer Decides on Minimalism at Last Minute

by Samantha Prosser. @samanthprosser.

LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. - After weeks of delayed prep for the Kataifi Theater’s upcoming production of King Lear, set designer Lester Fox has finally announced his intent for the visual language of the show: it will be nothing at all.


“I learned about minimalism from Marie Kondo,” said Fox in a Zoom interview, for which he refused to turn on his camera. “I asked myself, ‘What set pieces could I lug half a mile from the M Train that would spark joy?’ And the answer was none. So I thought, Why not let the audience do the work? Imagine a column on the side of the stage. Envision an actual dagger in Regan’s hands. Besides, I do not have the financial security to risk my probation by carrying a bunch of knives around.”


Director Marco Moreno, recently fired from The Public Theater for what he calls “a spectacular alcohol tolerance,” had similar thoughts on his first off-off-off-Broadway show.


“I was really counting on Lester to come up with a cool concept for Lear,” said Moreno midway through his eighth beer. “Minimalism sounds like a fine idea. The theater seats 30 people. There’s about 30 people in New York who’ll be cool with the only set pieces being cabaret chairs. It made a lot of sense to me. Plus, it gives me more time to look for other jobs.”


One member of the production who voiced concerns about the minimalist approach was Janice Flowers, a recent college graduate who dreads her off-off-off-Broadway debut as Cordelia.


“I was under the impression that a night at the theatre - spelled with an ‘R-E’ - should be magical,” she said between sobs. “There is a long tradition of Shakespeare’s plays being performed as concept pieces: Hamlet on a submarine; Macbeth in the Wild Wild West; Romeo & Juliet as cats. To be cast in my first post-college production and have the concept be… empty space? Did I really spend four years rolling down my spine vertebrae by vertebrae for this? I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t have taken that Clowning class.”


In a joint statement, Fox and Moreno announced their intent to fire Ms. Flowers, saying her passion and drive were unmatched, but that she was “kind of a bitch.” When asked if they planned on recasting, they said that they plan on having the character of Cordelia exist solely in the audience’s mind.

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