Good afternoon, everyone. David Meldman here again to blog our Honorific with renowned scenic designer Richard Hay.
Richard Hay began work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland in 1950. 1950, that date is correct. Now he is the Senior Scenic Designer. Dr. Ralph Cohen leads us in honoring the work of one of the best stage designers working in America today. “It seems a little odd, even suspicious, that a legendary designer from the other coast shows up every few years at a theater in Virginia where we don’t build sets….I’ve found some evidence that Dick Hay is a closet Original Practice practitioner.” Dr. Cohen informed us, even citing archival evidence from the Folger in the form of a book on OP donated by Hay, but perhaps “more disturbing” he has been an actor! A parade of ASC company actors come forth in costume of the many ‘bit roles’ Mr. Hay played during that time.
Hay made his mark designing, rather than acting, however, so we turn our attention to views of his designs (cleverly contrasted with images of the ASC’s own ‘designs’.) The resident company perform excerpts from the plays with their design projected behind them (on our new, large projection screen) simultaneously allowing us to layer Hay’s rich design and the Blackfriar’s own OP staging, the one over the other. The opportunity to bring our Bear out for Winter’s Tale is taken to great advantage. Henry V‘s Chorus, portions of each speech spoken by a different company member, brings the sequence to a rousing climax. Dr. Cohen welcomes Hay to the stage, “We want to thank Dick Hay for all the fields…of France, of Agincourt, of England, of Italy…all the fields he has allowed us to fill. Thank you, Dick.”
In his acceptance speech Hay shares that he comes to the BFC largely as an antidote to his regular work with the impressive and encompassing design levels at OSF. Design, he tells us, can often become over encumbered with concept. Every two years he attends the Blackfriars Conference to take a refresher course on Shakespeare and Performance without the occasionally burdensome trappings of concept and design. We have been honored to have him, and it is our honor to honor Hay in return.