The Visit tells of a town of desolation. Its industry is destroyed, its people are poor and desperate and there is no way of escape. Claire Zachanassian arrives back to her home town, immensely rich and offers $1,000,000 if someone provides her with the revenge she seeks.
Conceptually, it drew comparisons of the 1980s miners strike and the rise of Thatcherism. It was a time when industry declined, people became poor and desperate and towns that had previously boomed had declined rapidly. It was also spearheaded by a meticulously well-thought out plan made by a woman, who stockpiled coal in order to ensure the country could withstand the strike - similar to Claire, who bought out the town and then sought to destroy it.
The set became a warped, abstracted mine made of real steel and buried in dirt so that audience members felt they were really in this broken town. Promenade felt important to me - this was real people and that felt integral to the design that people empathised. I wanted to bring the audience into the action as much as possible.
In the same way, the Guelleners can’t leave, its important the audience get that same feeling. Audience come in through the studio side entrance from where conceptually the train station is situated. Later, Claire tells us no trains stop in Guellen anymore - they are all trapped.
For costume, I took hints of the 80’s fashions, with wide legs and power dressing, but slightly modernised it to create a Brechtian/Contemporary feel. Any characters owned by Claire are in monotones - they are devoid of personality, whereas the Guelleners are the people we still see today - poverty stricken and in old clothes.
Claire has many changes, each more impressive than the next. The costume shown here emphasises the concept of the horrible beauty that runs through her. On the surface Claire is a beautiful older woman, but when you look deeper she is decrepit - old, vicious and full of hate. Similarly, the embroidery on the back of her long cloak looks beautiful, but in fact is created of thorns, insects and bone imagery.
There’s an important transition in the play, where the Guelleners begin buying new things before they’ve agreed to the deal. For this, Roby and Toby sell gold thread and mechanical pieces to the townspeople during scenes, and audience members can see them fixing their clothes and getting the broken machinery back up and running in order to prosper once again.