Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim
Director: Paul Kerryson / Musical Director: Charlie Ingles /  Costume Design: Kilah Williams / Lighting Design: Tom North  / Set Design: Diogo Pereira / Producer: Heather Davies / Richard Burton Theatre, 2017
"Johanna", 1979
From The Courtyard to the Abattoir
At the beginning of the design process for Sweeney Todd, the director suggested to set the production during the scary year of 1962, East End London - This was the time of many people acting like it could be the end of the world - 1962 Cuba nuclear war crisis.
I started my research with two main ideas: East End London Neighborhoods and also industrial and decadent spaces. My first idea (after discovering the images of the photographer John Claridge, showing the decadence in East End London), was to develop a Courtyard for the set - a cloistered place used for gossip, where the chorus could appear at the windows, talking about the Life of Sweeney and also, in some moments, the back wall of the courtyard would break, to allow the pie shop to invade the middle of the Courtyard...

Sweeney Todd is a story about corruption, and how that corrupted power can transform naive citizens into monsters. So, the idea of the miserable and cloistered Courtyard, occupied by segregated people, it was a representative space of how London is described in the Libretto:

"There's a hole in the world like a great black pit
and the vermin of the world inhabit it
and its morals aren't worth what a pig could spit
and it goes by the name of London."
The second set design proposal for Sweeney Todd it was an abstract/multipurpose space that suggests the idea of an Abattoir - a decadent industrial structure with corrugated iron, meat hooks, and giant curtains with plastic sheets that could Fly IN and Out to define different spaces.

What is behind the Curtain? What can be seen? What has been hidden?
What is Transparent and Clear or Blur?

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