So one thing I wish we talked about more often is how non-traditional set design aspects of theatre - like costumes, lighting, space, sound and props design - can really make a Shakespeare staging soar or totally and completely miss the point.
@marloweandchill and I have been having a great conversation about the Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus, and it just reminded me how much I love it when I and my fellow designers can take certain risks.(I’m a costume designer - not totally relevant to the conversation, but it’s where my thinking is coming from.) Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t but they’re definitely interesting.
Dubstep music? Not my thing, in terms of creating a dramatic war setup. The design was probably trying a little too hard to be “contemporary.” But on the other hand, the shifting projections of graffiti were amazing, really drawing you into the common people’s opinions on Martius/Coriolanus, despite the fact that we didn’t really see any crowds.
The lighting design was especially A+, at least when I last watched it. In those moments of deep crisis or emotional shifts, you got this eerie blue light covering the stage, which added in aspects of psychological drama not everyone immediately catches onto when they read the play. Martius/Coriolanus washing off blood after the battle, his grappling with the crisis of Antium - those tough war scenes are in blue. But the final scene with Volumnia and Virgilia is also bathed in this light, which, to me, really sets a particularly emotional tone for Martius/Coriolanus towards the ending of the play.
TL;DR: Technical elements of shows are so, so important for bringing your interpretations and staging to life. I love the Donmar Warehouse version of Coriolanus in particular, and it’s because there was a combination of top-notch acting and directing in conjunction with well thought-out design aspects. They teased out parts of the show that wouldn’t otherwise have existed from a straight text reading, which is always the ideal.