Jun 6, 2011

DAP 360: Derek McLane

A few weeks ago,
I had the rare treat of going to see Robin Williams on Broadway in
The Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.

Let me just say that I was definitely not disappointed.

Robin Williams was amazing and filled the stage with his presence, as did the entire cast...
The play itself, was moving...chilling ...enticingly disturbing...
but for me there was another star that emerged from the night.

That was Derek McLane...the Scenic Designer who is the focus of this week's Dec-a-Porter 360*, who created this dark & magical middle eastern wonderland.
Completely contemporary in design as well as respectful of the play, the culture and it's message.

Not too beautiful, suficiently bold and layered
as each scene surprised you with some small new detail.

Simply put - OUTSTANDING!

All Images via Derek McLane.org
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

After reading carefully through the Playbill booklet, I realized that Derek McLane was also responsible for another great play I had recently seen with Jane Fonda - 33 Variations.

The sheets of music flittering
The repeat of pattern
The symmetery

 are all great design elements

33 Variations with Jane Fonda

After leaving the play, this was another one of those moments where the imagery of the scenic design stayed with me - even to today.

Of course the importance of Lighting Design is crucial, and this is absoltuely true in interior design as well, as they would not live or breathe without the other.

The attention to detail and pattern that are included in his sets are courageous as most scenic designers would be wary or underestimate their importance as they can become lost for those members of the audience in the back...

More recent work: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

However, for a designer and design enthusiast like myself, his work is inspiring and exciting.



  1. While so many theatre lighting designers just seem to layer the lighting over the set, Derek so carefully weaves his visual cues into the scene. He is a master at creating richness in the visual field and at triggering the right stimuli at the right time with full synesthetic effect!
    The lighting in these plays is there on the set, almost physical, interacting with the actors and providing the sense of wonder that makes a theatre play such a human moment!
    Thanks for the beautiful selection of images!


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