Once: the Musical was based on a film directed by John Carney in 2006. The musical version was written by Enda Walsh and was first performed at New York Theatre Workshop in 2011. The musical has a larger focus on Dublin and the Irish identity compared to the film. This set design was designed for the Royal Exchange Theatre. It was a collaborative project where I worked as the set designer alongside with a lighting designer and a sound designer. As a team, we think that Dublin and Irish music culture are the biggest part of the play and would want to make it the main focus of our design.
It is very common to find musicians playing their instruments in an Irish pub and sharing their stories through music. This would be the main aspect of our designs. The theatre is like a pub where the audience are able to feel like they are in an Irish pub enjoying the music sessions performed in front of them. The stories and experience of the characters will be told through music and will be acted out in the centre of the stage. The set will look simplistic. All of the pieces will be used repeatedly throughout the performance with changes in position to suggest different locations and moods. The audience are able to use their own imaginations to create their own version of the story and the world that the characters live in. The characters in the musical are from different nationalities and backgrounds. I wanted to highlight this in my set design and show that music unites people. So, I took inspiration from the map of Dublin to create my set design.