A Christmas Carol   |   Journey To The West   |   Matchless and the Happy Prince (by Gregory Maguire and Oscar Wilde) 2015 and 2016   |   Sila   |   Car Talk the Musical (2011 and 2012)   |   Arabian Nights (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015)   |   Brundibar   |   Amahl and the Night Visitors (opera, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016)   |   Life of Galileo   |   States of Grace (2006)   |   Alice\'s Adventures Underground (1998 and 2008)   |   How Do You Spell Hope   |   Creation of the World   |   The Tempest   |   Christopher Columbus Follies: An Eco Cabaret 1992   |   Accidental Death of an Anarchist   |   Museum of Science Gold Exhibition Play   |   Are You Ready My Sister   |   Intoxicating- An EcoCabaret   |   Noah\'s Bath or Bain de Noe   |   Revels   |   Sanctuary the Spirit of Harriet Tubman   |   Home Is Where 1989
A Christmas Carol
   Set in the round was surrounded by wall murals.   Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA    [Acrylic paint on aluminum panels.]
A Christmas Carol is a ghost story. My designs conjure the ghost cityscape of 19th century London tattooed with contemporary street art and graffiti that reflect the energy and spirit of the many commonwealth cultures inhabiting the city today. It was a breakthrough when I realized that the biting political stencils of Banksy inhabit a Dickensian world of Victorian street urchins. The street murals surround the audience seated in the round as ghost backdrops, while the actual stage is painted with a giant clock and cobblestone streets. Against this backdrop there are miniature buildings with interior lighting like lanterns. The miniatures are mounted on rolling wagons, sleds, baby carriages, and wheelbarrows to set the stage for different scenes. They evoke the tiny glass buildings that often decorate the bases of family Christmas trees. A team of artists collaborated on the design, building and painting of the sets and puppets, including: Steve Lewontin, Liane Noddin, Sarah Nolan, Charlotte Dore, and Joseph Fichter.
- HIDE big image
Background murals
Journey To The West
      Central Square Theater    [Painted floors, sets, climbing walls and silks]
"Journey To The West" was adapted by Mary Zimmerman from an ancient Chinese story about a monk who travels China to India in search of Buddhist spiritual scriptures and enlightenment. Much like in Wizard of Oz, he is accompanied by three eccentric characters who assist him in the quest. The Central Square production was directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner. The set was a long alley arrangement with audience on either side of a long painted floor that unrolls like an ancient scroll from a Buddhist wall mandala at one end to an abstracted temple at the other. The mandala mural is also a climbing wall. The temple is covered with painted silk murals. Liane Noddin was my painting assistant along with many volunteers.
+ SHOW big image
Matchless and the Happy Prince (by Gregory Maguire and Oscar Wilde) 2015 and 2016
      Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theater    [Set and puppet design from found objects]
The Happy Prince and Matchless are two beautiful stories from different times, with the shared mission of revealing the value of the thing thrown away, overlooked – the proverbial “stone that the builder refused”. Frederick, the boy at the center of “Matchless” is a passionate collector of junk, which he salvages and artfully assembles into a magical town in the attic, out of sight of his family. As Gregory Maguire describes it, “the houses were made of empty boxes that he’d lifted from merchants rubbish bins”. Or “ a gold-plated chocolate gift box sporting a porcelain dome”. This idea became the guiding principal for me and my artistic collaborators Will Cabell and Penny Benson, in our rendition of the set and puppet characters in both Matchless and the Happy Prince.
+ SHOW big image
      Underground Railway Theater, Cambridge, MA    [puppets and shadow puppets]
Puppet Design for Sila, includes two life size polar bear (mother and daughter). Mother bear is operated by 3 puppeteers and the baby bear is operated by a single operator. There are a number of scenes created with shadow puppets (reflective and shadow) mostly involving Inuit stories, such as an encounter with Nuliajuk the goddess of the oceans. Will Cabel constructed the bears and Yetti Frenkel sculpted the heads from the designs.
+ SHOW big image
Car Talk the Musical (2011 and 2012)
   8 ft. X 6ft.   The Modern Theater and the Central Square Theater    [Car parts and foam rubber]
Car Talk: the Musical was presented by the Suffolk University Theater Department, who commissioned The Wizard of Cahs, which is a large scale talking puppet with the voices of Tom and Ray Magliozzi. It was designed and painted by David Fichter and constructed by Will Cabell. The first professional production was in 2012 at the Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA.
+ SHOW big image
Arabian Nights (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015)
   Painted floor- 22 ft. X 40 ft.   Central Square Theater    [Set, puppets, painted canvas and silk]
The set design for this co-production of the Nora Theater and the Underground Railway Theater is a large painted floor with patterns and silk drops hung over an upstage cyc. Puppets (hand, rod, and reflective) were primarily for the Sinbad story and inlcuded a large mythic bird called a Rukh, which transformed from a Persian tent. The Rukh egg was made from the round cushions that were part of the set decor. Winner of IRNE Award (2012) for Best Puppetry (with Will Cabell)
+ SHOW big image
      Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA    [Puppets made of silk and paper mache.]
Brundibar is a children's opera originally performed at Terezin concentration camp. The puppet designs for this project include a dog, a cat and a sparrow which inhabit the fairy tale world of the opera and assist the children in driving out the bully organ grinder Brundibar. The puppets are visible means body puppets worn by the singers. They are made with hand painted silk and paper mache. The opera was directed by Scott Edministon. Puppets were built by Brad Shur and painted by the designer, David Fichter.
+ SHOW big image
Amahl and the Night Visitors (opera, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016)
      Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio    [set, puppets, costumes, projections]
Amahl (set, puppets, costumes, shadow puppets, projections and cutouts) was designed by David Fichter for a co-production of Madcap Puppets and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and performed in December 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 at Xavier University (Gallagher Student Center Theater) in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was an innovative production of Amahl which was directed and conceived by Irina Niculescu. The story is set in a contemporary homeless shelter.
+ SHOW big image
Life of Galileo
   20 ft. X 40 ft.   Central Square Theater    [Thrust stage, murals, puppets, masks]
Set was a raised thrust platform painted with patterns representing the Copernican solar system, as well as a simple scaffolding with catwalk walkover. The surrounding walls of the theater are painted with enormous murals representing the solar system, with views of Jupiter and the moon. Space debris from different civilizations and time periods floats by the planets and references specific locations and themes in the play.
+ SHOW big image
States of Grace (2006)
      Boston Playwrights Theater and Tufts College Arena Theater    [Set, rod puppets, shadow puppets]
States of Grace was based on short stories by Gace Paley. It was conceived and written by Deborah Wise of the Underground Railway Theater. This world premiere production incorporated shadow and rod puppets in a surrealistic kitchen set with a painted mural screen behind it. Puppets emerge from kitchen drawers, cabinets, waist baskets and refrigerators to populate the night visions of a struggling writer.
+ SHOW big image
Alice's Adventures Underground (1998 and 2008)
      Underground Railway Theater    [silk and paper mache masks.]
The set was created from painted silk drops hung on arched poles. The silks were moved by the actors in view of the audience. As one silk piece was pulled off, the next piece was pulled from the other side. Puppets included a three headed blue caterpillar with many hands provided by child actors and huge humpty dumpty with moveable face parts. The cheshire cat was a mirrored lexan reflective puppet who smile broadened as the mirror was bent. Winner of 1999 IRNE for Best Set Design (with Will Cabell).
+ SHOW big image
How Do You Spell Hope
      Underground Railway Theater, Cambridge, MA    [Painted set pieces based on pop up books.]
"Hope Do You Spell Hope" by Melinda Lopez, was an original play for families based on three different characters' struggles with reading. One of the characters was the famous 19th century leader and writer Frederick Douglass. A second character was a contemporary teenager who struggles with dyslexia. The third character was a Latina immigrant who is learning to read in Spanish. The set design was based on "pop up books" and included rod marionettes, shadow puppets, and reflective puppets. Actors would open parts of the set to reveal pop up scenic elements. Set pieces and puppets were constructed by Will Cabell. The touring production of the play included an engagement at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
+ SHOW big image
Creation of the World
      Underground Railway Theater    [Painted shadow puppets, foam carved set, masks]
"Creation of the World" was a shadow puppet extravaganza based on Yoruba creation stories and set to music by Darius Milhaud, which premiered at Lincoln Center. Subsequent performances were with the Boston and Chicago Symphony orchestras. The set consisted of two large shadow puppet screens with carved foam borders designed to look like a giant "divination tray", an object central to the Yoruba religion. The center of the tray was a shadow screen upon which the characters told the story. The character of Oshun which is the river orisha, or goddess, is played by a dancer with a larger mask, designed with fish and water birds. The second screen was based on a large scale fan also associated with the river goddess.
+ SHOW big image
The Tempest
      Boston Symphony Hall, Underground Railway Theater    [Set (screen with painted silk drops), shadow puppets]
"The Tempest" was a shadow puppet production based on Shakespeare's play and commissioned with original music by the Boston Symphony Orchestral in honor of their 100th anniversary of Symphony Hall. The music was composed by Robert Xavier Rodriguez and the narration by Wes Sanders (Underground Railway Theater). The premier performance was at Boston Symphony Hall, with Keith Lockhart conducting. The music for The Tempest emphasizes the cultural clash between the “Old World” of Prospero and the Europeans and the “New World” of Ariel and Caliban, as Shakespeare would have perceived it in exhibitions from the Virginia Company in 1613. The score includes recorded sounds of Mexican birds, high instrumental imitations of Mexican bird calls (particularly in the depiction of Ariel) and Andean folk melodies as well as an Elizabethan quotation, from William Byrd’s Earle of Salisbury Pavane. The orchestration reinforces the story’s cultural dichotomy with exotic non-Western percussion sounds (marimba, gourds, rattles, etc.) merging with the European harpsichord and traditional orchestral forces. In the original production, three actor-puppeteers provided voices and visual images. One actor played Prospero, one actor played Miranda and one actor played Caliban, Ferdinand and Alonso.The part of Ariel was represented not by an actor, but by the piccolo(s) accompanying dancing images of light produced by mirror shadow puppets. The production, designed by David Fichter, had a pre-Columbian Latin-American setting and design.
+ SHOW big image
Christopher Columbus Follies: An Eco Cabaret 1992
      Underground Railway Theater    [Puppets, set]
"The Christopher Columbus Follies: An Eco Cabaret" was created by the Underground Railway Theater for the Columbus quincentennial in 1992. It was an original piece on the environmental legacy of Columbus, related especially to Native Americans then and now. It was a carefully woven pastiche of scenes and songs juxtaposing 1492 and 1992 are issues of social justice and the environment. The set backdrop consisted of black sails against which the actors and singers performed. There were also shadow and reflective puppets, particularly for scenes representing the Taino Native Peoples. A large scale puppet represented the "mother of the environmental justice movement" Chicago native Hazel Johnson. The Hazel puppet at the climax lifts her arms to reveal a grotesque toxic map of America. The show was directed by Downing Cless and Wes Sanders, and written by Cathy Cevoli.
+ SHOW big image
Accidental Death of an Anarchist
      Boston Theaterworks, at Suffolk University, Boston    [Set and set painting]
"Accidental Death of An Anarchist" is a zany, madcap political farce by Italian playwright Dario Fo. The set, which represents different floors of a police station uses filing cabinets as an arena for some the antics. When the set transfers to another floor of the police station, the window backdrop simply rolls up so as to give the illusion of another floor without changing the room layout.
+ SHOW big image
Museum of Science Gold Exhibition Play
      Museum of Science, Boston, MA    [Paper mâché, found objects, painted foam]
The Gold Troll and the Gold Mountain were puppets commissioned by Boston's Museum of Science for a special theater piece that was part of an exhibit about gold. The Gold Mountain appeared at the end of the play and had interior lights that transformed the puppet from a regular rock mountain to one that contained gold. The Gold Troll was a mischievous character who embodied the rapacious history gold has played in human history.
+ SHOW big image
Are You Ready My Sister
      Underground Railway Theater    [Shadow puppets, set in the shape of a quilt, with projection]
"Are Your Ready My Sister" tells the story of Harriet Tubman and her work as a "conductor" on the Underground Railway and the Quaker women who helped her bring 300 fugitives to freedom. It was a touring production with two actors/puppeteers, who tell the story using a giant patchwork quilt. As the plot unfolds, each square of the quilt comes to life with shadow puppets and painted back lit scenery.
"Are You Ready My Sister" toured across the country for over twenty years, in schools, performing arts centers, and community centers.
+ SHOW big image
Intoxicating- An EcoCabaret
      Underground Railway Theater, Arlington, MA    [Mural imagery on wood panels and giant paper mâché puppet]
+ SHOW big image
Noah's Bath or Bain de Noe
      Theatre des Marionettes de Geneve, Switzerland    [Set design, puppets, marionettes]
"Noah's Bath" was written and directed by Eric Bass for a production at the Theatre des Marionettes de Geneve. The story revolved around a rather pompous Swiss Judge who has been given the task of bathing his son Noah while his wife takes a break and goes out. Noah who is a playful child decides to stop up the bath which then overflows flooding the room, with the bath tub now floating on the flooded water. The father ends up in the bath while the child's toy animals (puppets and marionettes) become the "animals" in the ark.
The father is forced to come to terms with his "inner child" and is entertained by the animals. The set featured a large scale bath tub and the water effects were created with hand painted silk.
+ SHOW big image
Sanctuary the Spirit of Harriet Tubman
      Underground Railway Theater    [Set and puppets, including giant Harriet Tubman ]
"Sanctuary: the Spirit of Harriet Tubman" combines narratives of flights to freedom during the 1850's in an account of Tubman's Underground Railway journeys and the contemporary Sanctuary movement from Central America. The first act tells the story of Harriet Tubman and the set is dominated by a giant puppet image of Tubman with an outstretched hand. During the second act, which tells the stories of Guatemalan refugees who find sanctuary in US churches in the 1980's, the Tubman puppet transforms into a Guatemalan refugee. The play, which tries to draw connections between the Underground Railway of the pre Civil War era and the contemporary sanctuary movement, toured nationally during the 1980's. In addition the puppet of Tubman was part of a street pageant that was performed in Philadelphia in front of the first National Treasury building, as an alternative celebration of the 200th anniversary of the US Constitution. The columns of the Treasury Building became the backdrop for the street performances about people left out of the constitution, including People of Color, Women, Native Americans and others.
+ SHOW big image
Home Is Where 1989
      Underground Railway Theater    [Poster, set, puppets]
"Home Is Where" was an original play created by members of the Underground Railway Theater about the theme of home and homelessness in America. It is the story of a fiesta group of urban homesteaders fighting to reclaim a parcel of land in the South End. The theater collaborators spent a year researching the piece, interviewing homeless people, developers, social workers, and activists.
+ SHOW big image
A Christmas Carol   |   Journey To The West   |   Matchless and the Happy Prince (by Gregory Maguire and Oscar Wilde) 2015 and 2016   |   Sila   |   Car Talk the Musical (2011 and 2012)   |   Arabian Nights (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015)   |   Brundibar   |   Amahl and the Night Visitors (opera, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016)   |   Life of Galileo   |   States of Grace (2006)   |   Alice's Adventures Underground (1998 and 2008)   |   How Do You Spell Hope   |   Creation of the World   |   The Tempest   |   Christopher Columbus Follies: An Eco Cabaret 1992   |   Accidental Death of an Anarchist   |   Museum of Science Gold Exhibition Play   |   Are You Ready My Sister   |   Intoxicating- An EcoCabaret   |   Noah's Bath or Bain de Noe   |   Revels   |   Sanctuary the Spirit of Harriet Tubman   |   Home Is Where 1989
© 2006 davidfichter.net
∴ All Rights Reserved

Site Created By James F. Roberts IV