McKay Coble is a scenic designer for the PlayMakers Repertory Company at UNC. As a member of the creative team, she has aided in the the design of more than 25 plays with PlayMakers over the past 30 years. Coble also has experience with scenic design for regional and Broadway performances and film.
Staff writer Jessica Hardison spoke with Coble about her time with the PlayMakers and her experiences with the upcoming PlayMakers show entitled "Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood."
The Daily Tar Heel: How did you get your start as a member of the PlayMakers creative team?
McKay Coble: I actually started back here in 1975 as a drama major. At the time, PlayMakers didn’t exist, but in my sophomore year, PlayMakers was formed. It used to be kind of town and gown, and then they decided that a better way to train students would be to have a professional company in residence at the University, along with the academic shows we were doing.
When I went on to graduate school, your thesis project was with the PlayMakers Repertory Company. So that's how it got started way back then. After graduate school, I left and lived in New York for about seven years working in costume house, and then when I came back I started teaching one course. One course turned into two, I started designing shows and I've been here for about 30 years.
DTH: What is your role as a scenic designer, and what responsibilities does that include?
MC: Well, for every show, the responsibility of a scenic designer is to work with the rest of the creative team and really create a world in which the actors can tell the story. The scenic designer is going to create the physical world, and the costume designer is going to create the clothes, but we're all working together to try to create a single vision for a piece. And so for me, the early stages are working with the director and the other designers to come up with a world.
For example, with Sherwood in particular, we know the Robin Hood story, but is there a reason to make it more contemporary or whatever the director really feels the point is. In a time where social justice is a conversation that I think everybody's having, this guy, who was one of the very earliest social justice workers, is a very interesting story to tell right now. In coming up with a world, my responsibility is to show the director different kinds of research and different drawings to eventually come up with a model and then the technical drawings for building the scenery.
DTH: How did you contribute to "Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood"?