The turn of the Screw

Theater an der Wien

Director/Designer: Robert Carsen

Designer: Luis F. Carvalho
Lighting Designer: Peter Van-Preat
Video Designer: Finn Ross
Photo Credit: Curtsey of TadW

I was first asked to co design ‘Turn of the Screw’ by Robert Carsen shortly after I worked with him on reviving his production of ‘L’Incoronazione di Poppea’ at Theater an der Wien. I had been working as associate designer to Michael Levine and found the experience of working with Robert exceptional. I had not previously had the opportunity to work first hand with a director that shared my passion for design but Robert Carsen is very well known in the industry for his particular precision and attention to detail, so it was a delight to collaborate and create our first co-designed production of sets and costumes.

I still remember when we first started working on the piece Robert saying to me: ‘Our way in is through the Narrator, our Prologue’. As it happens, when Benjamin Britten first handed in his finished score he was told that it was ‘short’, so he went away and added the first piece of music where the narrator sets the scene much like in Greek drama. So we decided to make our narrator a lecturer at a university giving a talk on the occult and thus began the design process. With this in mind we immersed ourselves in the world of Hitchcock and created a black ‘portal’, camera lens iris through which we could look into the world of the governess and the children. To tell the story, the lens iris opens and closes and carries the eye of the watcher much like a camera draws its audience to the action.

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THE TURN OF THE SCREW Benjamin Britten