carey wong
scenic designer



by the editor
STAGE of the Art
Winter 2002

Carey Wong has worked for over 25 years as a stage designer and arts administrator in the United States and Canada. He has created over 250 designs for opera, theatre, dance, television, and museums throughout America for such companies as Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Edmonton Opera, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Minneapolis' Hey City Theater, South Carolina Educational Television, Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts, Tacoma Actors Guild, and the Seattle Children's Theatre. Mr. Wong attended Yale College and the Yale School of Drama and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University.

Wong explains that Mask of the Unicorn Warrior was a dramatic work developed by playwright Y York based on imagery contained in the famous series of unicorn tapestries in Paris and New York. It dealt with secret identities, the clash of two brothers vying for royal succession, and the nature of truth and love. Very much a poetic drama, the play also offered an opportunity for some marvelous stage fights and a remarkable transformation of a woman into a unicorn. The set design for Unicorn Warrior that he designed echoed the unstable nature of the medieval world that the characters find themselves in—a raked disk pierced by a single rocky column (perhaps like the unicorn's horn piercing a shield) with the debris of other crumbling columns nearby. These dimensional pieces were enveloped by a pair of curved fabric pieces that carried turbulent, suggestive projections reflecting the emotions of the characters and situations depicted in the play.

Wong states: "I spent the first 10 years of my professional career designing almost entirely for opera companies, and I have spent a good part of the last 5–6 years doing a number of projects for the Seattle Children's Theatre. Oddly enough, I find designing productions for youth/child audiences very much like designing for grand opera. They both permit a designer to boldly follow stylistic concepts and ideas which might be too grandly vivid, emotive, or lyric for contemporary spoken adult dramas, which so frequently have a very specific and realistic setting. Young people are more willing to be imaginative, to enjoy the novelty or playfulness of designs, to follow a story with their hearts and eyes as well as their minds. Worlds created on stage for them don't need to be fully realized or literal; they can be as simple or as detailed as the director and designers intend. Young people can appreciate in a very direct way the "magic" that designers create in front of their eyes."

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