Q&A with Buried Child Scenic Designer Sibyl Wickersheimer
By A Noise Within
September 24, 2019
The home is the center of it all in Sam Shepard’s twist on the American family drama in his critically acclaimed Buried Child. Who is building this home, and where does her inspiration come from? Get your answers here in a Q&A session with Scenic Designer Sibyl Wickersheimer.
What attracted you to Buried Child? What is most intriguing to you about this story?
I grew up in Urbana, IL surrounded by corn fields. Literally surrounded by corn. I feel this story naturally fits the seemingly abandoned farmhouses I would drive by on old country roads. Furthermore, the writing is excellent and creates characters that feel very real no matter where you are from. I am drawn into the intimate conversations between these characters which make every audience member feel they are let in on this family’s secrets.
What is the scenic designer’s job? How did you begin your process for designing this show?
I create an environment for the action of the play to take place. I began by revisiting photos I have taken of IL near my family’s home and remembering fields, skies, seasons, and weather. I’ve designed the play before and this time, I was interested in developing the porch to wrap around the stage or house. On the ANW thrust stage this felt like a dynamic choice and allows the audience a chance to better compare the world inside of the house to the outside world.
How did you first become interested in scenic design?
The first time I tried set design in a class my senior year in college, I was hooked. In college, I was the Stage Manager for a production of Buried Child.
What elements of this play does the scenic design help tell the story?
The house is in disrepair but not necessarily because of its age, rather from the family history. I created the house with distinct areas, almost separating and pulling apart because of the unraveling of this family’s secret tragedy. The upstairs is Haley’s domain, the living room floor and couch are Dodge’s. The outside is Tilden’s. Bradley is trying to take back some area, but his bullying really has no results.
What piece of the show are you most excited to see come to life?
Oh, all of it!