Tag Archives: set design

Memento: Set Designs (for an Evergreen College class), 2003

Set design: inside “Stan” parliamentary building

My university journey in general, and Evergreen college time specifically, had many starts and stops taking in total from 1987 at Utah Technical/Valley Community College to 2004 graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Inter-disciplinarian studies at Evergreen in Olympia, WA.

Digression: While there are times I regret not having an “usual” university experience which I had anticipated being an “outstanding student” during much of my school time, there are some advantages of being a non-traditional student of having more diversity of age and background and expectation in the classes.

Anyway, along this journey, my pal Jay Stewart and I restarted Evergreen doing a class (something about Global Management and Leadership) which was held in-person on Olympia campus one complete weekend a month, with online work filling the time between.

[Noting: this was “early days” online learning which was an interesting thing to observe. Plus, the comprehensive weekends allowed you to do a lot of group work in a short period of time.]

Yeah, Evergreen in particular is particularly in love with “group work” and we had various group projects, some of which we could choose our group and some we were assigned a group… Ostensibly to teach us to work with people we weren’t necessarily familiar with or whatever.

Now, my usual inclination is to be that “person who drags everyone with them and makes a fun community out of the whole thing” but I was determined not to do that but, sort of ended up that way as much of the group floundered and spent more time talking about “why they couldn’t do things” than they did actually doing anything, and spinning useless energy on deciding when and how we would meet to talk about how and when we would do things. Generally very frustrating.

On the day of the presentation, some members went completely off script thinking that they were so fucking brilliant and loquacious they should just change everything on the fly because they were super good and a 10th grade debate class or something and I was fantastically unimpressed. (hey look i was learning!)

Our presentation with something about reforming labour laws in sweatshops or building up unions in emerging economies or promoting economies while protecting environment… something like that. So, I wrote a couple of plays (note to self: find these plays and publish them) set in a Central Asian, post-Soviet country (called Stanastan in the finished work) and did my favourite sorta arts-and-crafts part of making giant backdrops on refrigerator boxes with powder tempura paint. They were spectacular – ha!

I was so frustrated at the end of the talk that the prop some cells were left for custodians or late night ravers to dispose of, but in going through old notebooks, I found some sketches of my mock-ups.

Of course the finished works were even more majestic :) and interesting but looking at them brought back the flashback of just dealing with a bunch of hangers-on in the group. Probably a bad thing that that’s my memory but there were some other part of the class I enjoyed I suppose,…

I remember a presentation about poet-dissident-president Vaclav Havel and the frequent requirement of public speaking in the class (obviously) was a benefit for me. Plus hanging out with Jay during our clandestine lunches was cool.

As it goes, I went on to do some more of these kind of weekend classes, in some cases, going out to the Aberdeen campus studying legal/judicial systems, economies and privacy with a notion to go to law school which fortunately, did not pan out.

Set design: oil fields in a post-Soviet, central Asian country