Beginning this conversation, I spoke to the design team about two things that were important to me. First – the location itself. Stockport is a small suburb just outside of Manchester. (About 10 miles) It is a place for people who can't quite afford to live in the city, or want a bit of distance from an area that is more active and bustling. It's got a lot of dilapidated buildings and suffers, to some degree, from the loss of any substantial industry. It reminds me, if not in look than in feel, of my hometown of Detroit. A place where more people used to live but has a sense of abandonment.
The other place we looked was at images of abandoned hotels. The Bluebell Hotel plays a major role in the setting of so many of these scenes and I just had this strong visceral response to the idea of a place that used to be a lovely human retreat being abandoned and left behind as it is repossessed by nature. It speaks to me about both neglect and potential. It was built with such grand human intentions and is now trying to maintain its dignity as nature slowly chips it away.
There is, for so many of these characters, a disappointment with their lot. They are not living the lives they thought they were going to. Even surrounded by people, they feel lonely and alone. It seemed really fitting then to put all of the scenes (there are probably 12 different locations) in the same space. I loved the idea of it all taking place in this abandoned hotel with the chairs that had been left behind serving as all of the furniture. (There is nothing more poetic to me then an empty chair – chairs are meant to hold people, and there is both sadness and potential when one sits empty and abandoned.)
So this is where we've started. Things will shift and be rethought as we enter rehearsals, but for now, this feels very right.