For Alexander Dodge, set designer for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the design process began with understanding the play’s psychological and emotional tone.

“The atmosphere of the play is incredibly hot much of the time and frequently unbearably so,” he said. “However, its volatility is absorbing and even bewitching.”

From there, Dodge and director Wendy C. Goldberg approached the task of creating a feeling of confinement for the PlayMakers thrust environment.  “We wanted a space that felt oppressive and constricting without necessarily being completely literal and naturalistic,” he said. “Though the play requires certain trappings of a period living room and the course of the evening happens in real time, the overall space could be metaphorical as well.”

Rendering of Dodge’s design

To accomplish this, they settled on a “metaphorical playing space” with more realistic, period-specific furniture pieces “to ground the reality.” The use of books ties in with the characters’ connections to academia. The glossy red floor and ceiling create the feeling of confinement desired by appearing to crush the wall of books.

An image that inspired Dodge’s design

Dodge said, “One of Martha’s first lines is ‘what a dump’ channeling Bette Davis. Presumably as George and Martha mess up one area of this big rambling colonial they move on to a cleaner area until the entire house is in the state we find it.”

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opens November 30th.