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A picture's worth 1,000 words

posted by Mary Kay Hickox on Sun, Nov 11, 2012
in Our shows

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One of our graphics department's most important tasks is creating the artwork for each show. This artwork appears on all marketing materials: the show program, posters, ads, postcards, and more. Good artwork doesn't give everything about the show away, but it does draw the viewer in.

The past couple of shows (An Iliad and Chinglish) and almost all of last season's shows involved artwork that was created on the computer or with production photos. Depending on the show, it is easier to use an iconic photo (like In Paris), or a type-based logo (such as Ghost Light) for our marketing purposes. Computer-generated artwork — which is readily altered and manipulated for all of the marketing materials — makes our lives as graphic designers a little easier.

Cheshire, our art director, had a very clear image in his mind of what he wanted for The White Snake, Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of the classic Chinese fable. Although we had access to production photos from the world premiere in Ashland, we wanted to create our own image of a particular scene in the play.

We took some test photos of Cheshire's idea — a woman with a parasol in a lush garden setting. Here is a test shot on the grounds of our Harrison campus. Karen, our communications manager, got to wear the big, heavy Chinese dress from our costume warehouse, and Tim, our costumes fellow, lent his hand.


After showing the shots to Mary Zimmerman, we went forward with the final artwork. For the final shoot, we had the costumes of the two main characters, White Snake and Xu Xian, sent to us from Oregon Shakespeare Festival's costume shop, and we used some parasols from our prop shop. Keeping with Berkeley Rep tradition, the artwork uses staff members (okay, just the fellows) as models: Read, this year's production management fellow, and me, the graphic design fellow. We are really lucky to be close to the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, where we took the photos. Their Asia Collection garden provided the perfect lush background that we were looking for.

Read and I waiting for people to move out of our shot.

Cheshire adjusts the parasol for the shot

It's always good to have various poses so that we have options to choose from.

After some photo processing, we finalized the image. Here's the photo as used in the show's postcard.


Fun fact: This is the second time Read's hand has been used in Berkeley Rep's show artwork. His hand was first featured in the artwork for Girlfriend in 2009.


Did you consult with Chinese costume and scenic designers in China and study Chinese movies about this story for visual inspiration? Except for the inappropriate Peking opera headdress worn by Ms White Snake, the clothing styles look very accurate for that time period.

anne | Fri, Dec 7, 2012

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