Set Designer Dale Marushy shared his creative process on his design for Outside Mullingar - a modern day romantic comedy set in rural Ireland.
The world of the play takes place in a landscape not so different from ours. I spent many hours 'Google mapping' my way around County Westmeath, where the town of Mullingar (and our characters) reside. The land is central to the story of this play, as are the social dynamics of an Irish home.
Within that broader setting, we needed a house. "Confines" of a kitchen serve as a central meeting place, and also, a battleground. The interior (minimalist, hard angles) needed to contrast the open landscape (wild abundance), which became a metaphor for the show itself: characters wrestling to find congruity with their place in life. There's freedom, but servitude. To the land and each other.
Early on, Morris and I brainstormed the idea of "outside" always being present. Or how the kitchen could feel part of the land, while still an outsider on it. This evolved into the house as an open structure with giant upstage scrim portraying an inescapably beautiful landscape. The house still feels like a house, but we're always faced with the land, the struggles, and question of ownership. Does the land belong to them, or do they belong to the land?
It's a riff on exposure, which for me, is the journey of the play. Vulnerability, transparency, exposure: the invisible walls that support a true home.