Charlize Althea Garcia | The Poly Post

From script to stage: CPP’s theatre department prepares for ‘The Clean House’

By Charlize Althea Garcia, March 7, 2023

In the week leading up to the opening show, production staff and designers work diligently to prepare for the Department of Theatre and New Dance’s production, “The Clean House.”  

Tasked to be resourceful while contributing to the art of storytelling, designers and production staff play integral parts in the play.  

The crew of “The Clean House” emphasized that shows like these demand crucial decisions throughout the production that come from the minds of the creative team, whether it be from the writer or the person in charge of props. It’s all a collective process that can involve more than one opinion.  

Props, independent of size, are built to shape the interpretation of a story through the weight in its symbolism.  

Prop manager Leslie Parada spoke about the significance of props in a production. Parada mentioned that every show houses a symbolic prop, and that it’s another element that contributes to telling a story.  

“It shows the true emotions of the show, and if you really think about the play, then you look at those props, you’ll have a better understanding of the symbolism,” said Parada. “Props can show emotion and symbols within the play that you can miss, or you can catch, and in the end, it’ll all make sense.” 

Costume design takes an even quieter approach to symbolism in a play. Depending on the designer and the creative team, costumes could have bizarre elements that are way beyond normalcy in current fashion or it could be sedated to match the times.  

Justyn Lozano, costume designer for the production, explained a scene from the play that incorporates an artistic decision he made as he designed a dress for one of the main characters. Lozano mentioned a mastectomy takes place in one of the scenes and Lozano expanded on his creative interpretation when designing the dress.  

“The scene is described as being very artful, so that was up to my own interpretation and how I wanted to do this,” said Lozano. “So, I decided to design a dress that has a beautiful red. It’s a beautiful blue dress that has red fringe on the bustier, and for me, that’s how I decided to symbolize a mastectomy.”  

Symbolism can be found not only while the audience leans forward and squints their eyes trying to decipher what prop the character is holding or what they’re wearing but also when the set demands wide-eyes and leaned backs against the seats to encapsulate the stage.  

Sanora Carrillo, set designer, utilized the halls of the theatre department as part of her design for the set. 

Charlize Althea Garcia | The Poly Post

“The world that they’re in, it kind of goes beyond the walls that we are physically taking place in, and you’ll even see that in the design for Lane’s house,” said Carrillo. “It’s not just in the studio. It takes place in any entrance or exit that we have in the space, making it more immersive but also showing how big but small that world is.” 

There seems to be two worlds of a production backstage and onstage and to tell a coherent story, one must have a bridge. The stage manager takes charge in maintaining a healthy work environment as well as ensuring the ideas of designers, writers and the director are rightfully played out.  

Stage manager Elisa-Belle Tremblay works on the production from the day they receive the script to the last curtain call. Tremblay explained that a stage manager helps in communicating and maintaining the artistic integrity of the director.  

Their constant presence gives the role the title of middleman due to interminable responsibilities that differ every day. There is creativity in their problem solving, strength and stability in their work rhythm, sharpness in organization and connection, and efficiency in communication, when put together, these elements contribute to the artistry of the execution of this story.  

“The Clean House” is a romantic comedy delving in the world of loss, personal growth and the desire for redemption. Each person in the show has a role, contributing in their own way artistically sparking ideas that leave the audience grasping for more.  

The show will take place from March 10 through the 19 in the Studio Theatre, tickets can be purchased at the building 25 box office. 

Feature image courtesy of Charlize Althea Garcia

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