Reid Thompson (1997)
Reid Thompson — Scenic Design
Thompson fell in love with scene work while he painted backdrops at the Metropolitan Opera. A trained painter from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he started painting backdrops as a day job so he could paint by night, but he fell for the arts.
“I started getting really interested in the shows from working on them in the scene shop and trying to understand what the designers were thinking — why they made the choices they did,” Thompson said.
He now studies design as a graduate student at the Yale School of Drama. His mentor was Ming Cho Lee, an 83-year-old scenic designer.
“(Lee) says, and I agree with him, that ‘Design is an act of transformation,’ ” Thompson said. “What you’re doing is transforming words on a page and the spoken word into visuals. The goal of good design, in my opinion, is to bring something more to the work.”
For Everything is Ours, Thompson’s goal is first to provide the needs of the play, creating the living room set and then to add his ideas to deepen the audience’s understanding of the text.
In that case, he and the director, Campbell-Holt, draw inspiration from the work of Gordon Matta-Clark and Louise Nevelson. Both artists collage household objects and actual homes into works of art.
Because Everything is Ours follows a couple who piece together a life of domesticity they don’t quite grasp, Thompson hopes to reflect their hodgepodge lifestyle with a collage backdrop made from various textured wallpaper, molding, frames, clocks and more.
For Thompson, collaborating with the other fellows and the designer on the play is one of his favorite aspects of the process, and it’s one of his favorite facets of design as a whole.
“The production of the play is made up of a lot of elements, but it’s not until they all come into the room … that’s when the play comes together,” Thompson said. “There is some magic point where it just becomes a play, and it’s very exciting.”