Design Approach Statement
The Design Approach Statement should be roughly three pages in length. Write a draft, reread it, edit it and pare it down to the essentials. Use it to refine how you think about the script. Say as much as you can in as few words as are absolutely necessary, while expressing your ideas completely. Please include and follow the order of these headings in your writing, just as you see them below.
Tell the story briefly, but completely. Tell me what happens, but not as a chronological listing of plot events. Tell me what this play is about, which probably enters into the worlds of theme and character as much as action. Don't get bogged down in extraneous details. Give the primary events and their effects on the characters. Give location, historical time, passage of time, and any other salient features which will help us to understand the story.
This is objective, not subjective.
Point of View:
This is essentially a “thesis” statement telling us your point of view of the story. What do you see as the main argument? How is the story relative to our own time or to a contemporary audience? How does the setting relate to the telling of the story and the support of the argument? How would you approach this play if you were directing or designing it? This is subjective, not objective.
This is not the specific location. It is the emotional or intellectual world in which the action takes place. It should encompass the social and political environment, as well; who has power or control in this story? While location is not what I am looking for, if the general location is specific to the understanding of the play, such as “a poor urban environment in NYC”, this can be useful information, but descriptors like “dark”, “cold”, “urban”, or “sterile” really describe the environment. Clearly identifying the environment opens a multitude of design possibilities which merely providing a location does not. (You may decide that the location and the environment are the same place, but this needs to be explored and explained.)
Visual Imagery/ Metaphor:
The environment described in visual terms, either concretely as in “A barren, distorted and intellectualized space like a painting by DiChirico”, or more freely as in “Earth tones and textures of rotting vegetation mixed with the soiled pages of ancient books”. This should be poetic and descriptive without getting hyperbolic. It's a way to begin talking about the play in purely abstract visual terms. You should also discuss some of the images and metaphors the playwright provides in the script. Again, this is not the location.
How, scenically, you might begin to approach the environment of this play in concrete terms. This can be incomplete and will surely change, but it is a place to start. Don't get locked in at this point — perhaps you relate to your visual imagery and merely speculate on how that might be used, whether with color or texture or materials or scale. Talk in terms of “walls” or “towering forms” or “stepped and uneven surfaces”, not flats and platforms and drops. I want to know what it looks like, not how it is built in the shop.
This should be typed, spell-checked and proofread for omissions and continuity.