On the set of Macbeth: MIMI LIEN
The influence of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space
Set designer Mimi Lien was asked to share a few thoughts about the development of her scenic ideas and the influence of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space: I was struck by Bachelard’s notion that the different physical localities of the house are imbued with particular psychologies/memories/fears/desires...in our first conversations, Blanka mentioned that she was interested in making this a very visceral production of Macbeth – one that makes the text really palpable, and the actors' physicality totally present. I immediately thought of the spatial equivalent, which is when a space actually makes you feel something. There’s a wonderful quote in the book: "Great images have both a history and a prehistory: they are always a blend of memory and legend, with the result that we never experience an image directly." There are localities that are more heavily imbued with these feelings than others – hallways, closets, attics, basements. These spaces are somehow repositories for memories, physical memories, and this makes them particularly potent for a play about fear. There’s another quote about the impact of a poem that’s very appropriate to this play, as well, in terms of the relationship of language to space: "The resonances are dispersed on the different planes of our life in the world, while the repercussions invite us to give greater depth to our own existence. In the resonance we hear the poem, in the reverberations we speak it, it is our own.... It is as though the poem, through its exuberance, awakened new depths in us." I think the play’s reverberations must be experienced both emotionally and spatially. It is through the simultaneous experience of these two that the actual reverberation occurs.