#OverACupOfTEALEAVES: Scenic Designer Tom Pye on Designing for Atlanta Ballet’s The NutcrackerNov.20.2018
TEALEAVES Creates “Gifts of Time” Nutcracker Afternoon Tea Experiences for the Holidays: A Celebration of the Arts and True Craftsmanship
TEALEAVES curates experiences that support celebrating craft and spending quality time with others this festive season alongside afternoon tea, all tied to the classic Nutcracker fairy tale, and brings together top names in the culinary arts, performing arts, and horology.
#OverACupOfTealeaves: At TEALEAVES, we believe that the best “condiment” to any cup of TEALEAVES is a story to tell and wisdom to share. Our team had the opportunity to connect with Tom Pye, the scenic designer for Atlanta Ballet’s new production of The Nutcracker, and here is what we learned below.
Set design plays an integral part in communicating the scenes and the story in a ballet production. Through the intricate designs, the audiences are transported to an alternative, magical world, allowing their imaginations to be swept away for a few hours.
Tom Pye, who is based in the UK, has designed sets and costumes all over the world for theatre, opera, television and film. Pye’s work has appeared in many productions in London’s West End and on Broadway, including Broadway’s revival of Fiddler on the Roof, for which he received a Tony Award nomination.
Learn why Pye decided to get involved in the ballet space and what he learned below.
TEALEAVES: What made you decide to take on this project?
Pye: I had never been asked to do a ballet of this kind before. I have designed for contemporary dance and dance in opera many times, but never a full-length classical ballet, so I was immediately intrigued. I find that as I get older, I thrive off new challenges. It keeps me excited and a bit scared. This year, I am designing two ballets, a play, two operas, a musical, and an eight-part series for television. In each of these projects, I try to achieve the same thing through the design, which is tell a story clearly and beautifully.
TEALEAVES: Can you tell us a little about the look and the feel you are going for with this version of The Nutcracker?
Pye: I wanted our new version of The Nutcracker to feel just that – new. I think it’s important when undertaking a well-known and much loved show to understand what attracts audiences to it and then find new ways to deliver on what they admire. I was keen for our version to look totally new and unexpected, but at th
e same time, I wanted it to be period and visually rich. It’s a Christmas show after all, and it should be magical.
TEALEAVES: What inspired you as you were working on the early set designs?
Pye: I spent a lot of time examining the collages of American artist Joseph Cornell. They have an exciting mix of elements I wanted to convey – a playful, modern, and slightly surreal feeling, and a contemporary use of period imagery. This was key for me in finding the aesthetic for the show and contributed to my decision to make it look like a huge three-dimensional scrapbook or storybook.
TEALEAVES: How has it been working with the others on the design team for this production?
Pye: I have really enjoyed working with all of the team, especially with lighting designer David Finn for the first time, as well as video designer Finn Ross. Having collaborated with him on many shows over the years, I introduced Finn Ross to the team. He’s a wonderful video designer and brings a layer of animated complexity and richness to the scenography. It’s always exciting to build on established creative relationships, as much as it is to develop new collaborations, and working with this team has been no exception.
*Header and Thumbnail image courtesy of Kim Kenny from Atlanta Ballet
Piece together your real-life Nutcracker fairytale and explore various ‘Gifts of Time’.