|Andrea Bechert is a member of United Scenic Artists * IATSE Local USA829*
|Produced by TheatreWorks.
Directed by Robert Kelley, scenic design by Andrea Bechert, lighting design by Steven Mannhardt, costume design by B. Modern.
Presented at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts in Mountain View, California.
"This fluidity is additionally anthropomorphized in the set design
that astutely reflects Alison’s mental state. Surprisingly, the set
becomes one of the most impactful elements in the show. As
Alison attempts to separate truths and fictions from her past, she
wonders, “What do you know that’s not your dad’s
mythology?” This question, which seems to drive the entire
narrative, is backdropped by a lightly illustrated map that is
painted on the floor and proscenium walls. The choice to
cement a godlike map onstage that her father’s “whole life fits
inside” continually reminds audiences of Alison’s overall goal to
gain a better understanding of her past. It also reflects the logical
processes she chooses to follow to reach this understanding."
|Article from the San Jose Mercury News:
‘Fun Home’ set designer brings her own memories to memory play
Since ‘Fun Home’ is based on the memories of graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, the scenes and
locations of the story are constantly changing and production designer Andrea Bechert had to keep up
with the pace. For the Bechdel home, Bechert created ‘the suggested elements of a house’ for the cast of
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s production, running through Oct. 28 at the Mountain View Center for
the Performing Arts.
With a tough coming-out story of her own, San Jose State University professor and scenic designer Andrea Bechert found more than
just work as she designed the sets for “Fun Home.”
Bechert has designed scenery for hundreds of productions in theaters across the country, but she relates specifically to the coming of
age, coming-out musical presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.
“Fun Home” is based on a 2006 graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel and was adapted for the stage by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori.
The novel and play tell the story of Alison’s childhood, her coming-out story and of her relationship with her closeted father.
“When I was an undergrad, I feel like I went through a lot of the same things that Alison Bechdel did,” said Bechert. “I was coming
out and trying to come to grips with my sexuality, and it was still something that wasn’t talked about too much. People were starting to
be okay with it.”
Bechert attended Northern Arizona University for her undergraduate degree in theatre design and technology. There, she said, the Gay
Student Union club meetings were awkward. “We were still a bit closeted at that time.”
“I remember in the late ’80s and early ’90s, [Bechdel] did a lot of books called ‘Dykes to Watch Out For,’ a series of books with
cartoon drawings,” Bechert said. “The books depicted people that were like me. So, for the first time I could read about people like
me. They helped me realize there are a lot more people like me in the world than I think, and that was really helpful during that time.
That was a big boost for me.”
Bechert also related to Bechdel’s account of her father’s passing and her relationship with him. Bechert’s own father died from cancer
early in her life. Bechert said he passed away before she could talk to him about her own sexuality.
“The scenes when Alison loses her father, those hit home with me,” Bechert said. “When you’re younger and dealing with coming out,
it is hard to not have one of your parents to talk to.”
Bechert, a design and technology professor, has designed several shows with TheatreWorks and with founder and artistic director
Robert Kelley, but being personally close to the story did not make her job any easier.
Since the play is based on Bechdel’s memories, the scenes and locations of the story are constantly changing and the design must keep
up with the pace.
“The scenes have to flow into each other,” said Bechert. “There are three Alisons on stage at the same time that are basically Alison at
three different times of her life. You go back to when she was a little kid, her college days, her present day. It moves all over the
Bechert said she tried to stay true to Bechdel’s memories, how she drew them in the novel and how she remembered each event.
“Since it is a memory play, I didn't want to put in completely realistic environments,” said Bechert. “For example, you don’t have three
walls of a house; you have the suggested elements of a house, and I think that works better for the audience because if you suggest
something, then they can fill in the rest and it becomes truer in their minds than my interpretation of it.”
“Fun Home” opens with nothing on stage, making it challenging for Bechert to figure out how to get the sets set up.
“You need very careful planning,” Bechert said.
Bechert brings her experiences in design work into the classroom at San Jose State. She and the rest of the Film and Theater
Department are trying to build up the design and technology program. Currently, students in the program have the opportunity to
pursue film, radio and television, not just theater
“Teachers have to be up to date and current with what is happening in the field; it provides better opportunities for students,” Bechert
said. “If I am not working in the field, how am I going to know the newest thing and the hottest thing is?”