UGA Theatre - The University of Georgia
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Interview: Scenic & Lighting Designer Melanie Stevens, "The Tall Girls"

MFA Designer Melanie Stevens with her set for  The Tall Girls.

MFA Designer Melanie Stevens with her set for The Tall Girls.

Melanie Stevens is a third-year MFA Design student. She is the set and light designer for The Tall Girls.

How does a designer create a set and lighting design for a show?
When creating two designs, you really just have more control of the world that you’re creating. You create the world with the set, and then get to light it the way you see it- which is really fun and daunting to have that much control! You are still doing two designs, so it is still more work than just one.

What has this experience been like for you?
This experience has been really helpful for me. At smaller theaters, you usually have your hand in more than one thing and so this is good practice for that. I am glad to have been given the opportunity.

What is your inspiration for your designs?
With the show being set in the Dust Bowl, that is where I started. The images I found are really moving. What these people lived through is incredible to me. The images that were captured in the black and white photos of the landscape gives them a natural and homey feeling, and that is what I wanted to bring to my designs.

What is your concepts for your design?
I wanted to have a contrast that showed these girls’ reality. On one side, they love basketball. They feel liberated at home when they are playing their favorite sport. This is when they feel their best. The flip side is the unsettling reality of the world they live in. There is dust everywhere, everyone has to help with the work, and there is always the fear of losing everything that your family owns. I wanted to connect the dirt and the love of the game.

Why do you think this play is important to today? What makes it relevant?
Hope is a really big part of how these girls are holding on. I think it shows the importance of hope and fighting for what you believe in. Even in disparity these girls have basketball, their hopes, and dreams of going downstate.

The Tall Girls opens September 21st and runs through September 30th in the Cellar Theatre. Tickets are $16, $12 for students and can be purchased here.

Lukas T. Woodyard