By Naomi Iizuka
Produced by Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County Dept. of Theatre
Directed by Eve Muson
Scenic Design by Kirsten Jolly
Costume Design by M. Hromek
Lighting Design by Corey Goulden-Naitove
Awarded 1st Place SETC Undergrad Lighting Design Competition 2020
Sound Design by Kaydin Hamby
Photos by Raquel Hamner and Corey Goulden-Naitove
Anon(ymous) by Naomi Iizuka is a modern re-telling of Homer’s The Odyssey through the perspective of refugees and illegal immigrants in modern-day America. As a refugee typically must flee their native land quickly and without notice, they usually must survive with very few possessions. Our research showed that a typical refugee from war-torn countries might only own the clothes on their back, a few family remembrances, some religious artifacts, or whatever else might fit within a travel sack. They literally carry their worlds on their backs. Lacking in materials, we found that these brave individuals would often creatively use found objects, like tarps, clothes, and bags to create temporary shelters and survive.
To discover what those objects should be for this production, the design team embarked on a weeks-long visual devising process that included waving fabric around, shining lights on parts of the theatre we normally try to hide, and throwing things off the catwalks. Through this exploration, we settled on swaths of fabric pulled out of backpacks, moving scaffolding, practical lighting objects, and the architecture of the theatre itself as the items through which to create the visuals to match the chaotic and epic nature of the script, which follows a young boy named Anon (the Odysseus character), as he desperately winds his way through the underbelly of America on a quest to find his mother, Nemasani (the Penelope character), from whom we was separated while feeling their home.
I wanted the lighting to reflect the chaos, beauty, and grandeur of Anon’s odyssey, as well as show the seductiveness, vibrancy, and danger of the American underbelly, through which Anon travels. I also wanted to show the juxtaposition of the warmth and beauty of Anon’s memory and the stories he and Nemasani tell, and the harsh, unflattering reality in which they live. To achieve this, I chose rich, saturate colors to paint the world of Anon’s stories that, when necessary, could be washed out or replaced by the duller tones of Anon’s reality, or could be used in carful combination with the less saturate tones to create the horrifying bloodiness of the Cyclops, the sweaty panic of the transit to the Underworld, or the seductive glow of the Sirens.