The Warp and Weft Part 4: Happy Endings

Neil Gaiman and Michael James Schneider, on the set of "Neverwhere"
Neil Gaiman and Michael James Schneider, on the set of “Neverwhere”

Fourth and final in a series. Here is Part 1, Part 2, where I speak to the inspiration and construction, and Part 3, where I interview the playwright.

The project I’ve put so much of myself into, alongside an amazingly talented cast and crew who did the same, is finally up and running! Designing the set for Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” (adapted by Rob Kauzlaric, see my interview with him here) has been a dream project, I’ve learned so much from it, and it’s strange to suddenly be done.

And then last night got even stranger: Neil Gaiman himself came to see the show… …and was very complimentary about the production, and my set. It’s moving to hear an artist whose work you admire so much, recognize your own work. And it must be interesting for him to see others adapt his work, bring life to his storytelling. I know that feeling on a very small scale, when I write theater pieces that others direct, act in. What a thrill it must be for him to see that on a huge scale, globally.

I’m already hard at work on my next project in Los Angeles, designing the set for the follow up to Sacred Fools’ 2010 runaway hit, “Watson”. This one is “Watson and the Dark Art of Harry Houdini”, and I’m pretty excited how different this one’s going to look. I’m also damn happy: I’m doing what I love, and I started designing the set from Portland. Stay tuned for more about this project.

Neverwhere already got great press before it even opened: it was in a blurb on BoingBoing.net, and featured in io9.com’s April calendar. Additionally, Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) was tweeting about our production to his almost 2 million followers on Twitter. We’re all really grateful for his support. In the meantime, here is a sampling of the reviews for “Neverwhere”. Nope, no humblebragging, this is more of a testament to all the amazing artists who made this project happen. I’m honored to be in the company of such fine people.

The first review came out on Saturday, April 6th, the day after we opened. It’s from SciFiPulse.net, a popular genre website. It was a pretty damn great review. Click here to read it.

A couple of days later, the review from Backstage came out. Again, pretty darn great: click here to read it. My favorite quote: “…utilizing every inventive trick the creative nutjobs who populate Sacred Fools have to conjure, “Neverwhere” goes everywhere the imagination can take it.” I’m a creative nutjob (and in good company too)! Sadly, this was the last issue of Backstage West to include reviews, for budgetary reasons.

The next review came from the LA Weekly. Though kind to my set design, the reviewer seemed to miss the magic that the Neverwhere team created. Of course I’m biased, but I do feel like the review was written a little cynically.

The next came from laist.com, and it was the opposite of the LAWeekly review: unkind to my set design, but generally very positive about the production. And you know what? It didn’t phase me one bit…in fact, I was more concerned with the previous review than this one. I’m used to taking criticism for my art, as I’ve written about before, but not used to collaborators’ hard work being criticized. I’m fiercely protective of those whose hard work and dedication showed through in this design.

I’m extremely grateful to director Scott Leggett for taking a chance on me, for Michal Kilpatrick and Tifanie McQueen for their support. There are about two dozen other people who I owe a huge thanks to, and could never make a complete list here. The last three words of my bio in the program say it best: “Grateful. Grateful. Grateful.”

I’m ready for what’s next. Let’s get to work.

PS- If you haven’t yet, please check out this TED talk, filmed a couple of months ago. It’s from Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman’s wife. Graceful and inspirational.