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Interview with set and costume designer Ankita Yadav

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

A Dig Deeper Interview by Production Dramaturgs Lyudmyla Honcharova and Kian Moradi.

Photo by Ashes Sitoula on Unsplash.

Is it your first experience designing an absurd play? If so, how did you find it? If not, what were your previous experiences?

Ankita: The first absurd play I designed was The End Game for the studio design class. But Rhinoceros is my first production design for an absurd play. Of course, every play for me is a different story but the main idea and source are almost the same sometimes. I do find absurdism very interesting. I like the way absurd playwrights think and the way they reject societal norms.

How are you initially inspired by an idea? In other words, what aspect of a play plants the initial seed in your mind to reach your target design?

Ankita: First of all, when I am reading the play, all that I want to understand in my first read is what is the soul of the play. And what the playwright wants to convey. Once I understand the soul of the play, I think about how it connects to me as a person and as an individual. And if I find the connection powerful, I am already in a good place to think about the design. In some way or another, I always find myself connected because I try to understand from the perspective of the playwright. I would try to understand the life of the playwright. What was happening in the playwright’s head when they wrote it? And that is how that seed is planted.

How did you find the connection with Eugène Ionesco's play? Was it an instant click? What was your interaction with Ionesco?

Ankita: I found his play to be very interesting. I am myself an absurd thinker. So that was very a direct connection.

What challenges have you met working on this production?

Ankita: Nothing major comes to my mind right now. I think that is a good sign.

You probably look for inspiration when working on a new production as a designer and artist. Where did you find inspiration for the set and costume design for Rhinoceros by Ionesco?

Ankita: Yeah… I needed to take inspiration from the whole world because Ionesco himself was a very vast creative. I also noticed that he also has great paintings done in his old age which was inspiring for me.

So, there were no particular artists that you have been trying to resemble their style just like Ionesco’s itself?

Ankita: No, because I wanted this to be very Rhinoceros and I was concentrating on its design.

Costume design is very interesting in this production, especially the rhinoceros. How did you come up with the idea for the costume for Rhinoceros? How difficult was it to make a costume that would represent the rhinoceros?

Ankita: The story says that people are turning into the rhinoceros. We wanted it to be as real as the story says. So, I knew that I needed rhinoceros heads. Jake and I discussed it and he also wanted the same thing. Rhinoceroses have huge heads so putting a huge head on the small head of an actor and then carrying that huge head is difficult. So, we wanted it to be very light in weight because actors are moving a lot with these heads on their heads. It was a little challenging but it has been done well.

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