What happens to the set when the play is over and done? Mysterious things. In the normal course of events, a set is immediately discarded or broken into pieces and recycled. But occasionally we will save large unique set pieces and put them away, ostensibly because we think we might use them again, but even more because we just love them and can't bear to chuck them out. Wandering around our warehouse is like working through the strata of THEATREWORKS history. There's an ornate baroque ottoman, thousands of bottles, a zillion chairs, some very large oil paintings, huge Bauhaus sculptural costumes, and lots of strange weaponry. But there are gaps in the fossil record. Once upon a time there was a truck. It was lovingly built by the actors playing Pa and Tom Joad from parts gathered from salvage yards, and used in our first production of Grapes of Wrath back in 1993. That truck was a beautiful thing, and of course we saved it, but it's gone now, and no one knows why, when or where. We've moved our stuff many times, from one place to another, and each time is an occasion to purge the inventory. But you don't just toss a truck, or if you do you'd think you'd remember it. Also AWOL is a thirty foot pool liner we used to make the swimming pool in the student production of The Metamorphoses. Again, no one seems to have a clue (and our tech people are not habitually absent minded, like artistic directors). Perhaps someone sensibly thought we'd never need to fill our stage with water again, or that we'd never ever restage that that epic Steinbeck play. Perhaps late one night some desperate latter day Tom Joad broke into the warehouse, loaded the liner in the truck, and drove off to Arizona to start a carp pond business. He wouldn't have got far: the truck had no engine. Of course a little thing like that wouldn't stop a Joad.
Fortunately, no such mysterious fate immediately awaits the tree which recently stood in our forest of Arden. It was a large and beautiful thing, a steel and mesh sculpture designed by Michael Stansbery and built by Roy Ballard.It might have gone straight to oblivion had not a school in Monument asked if they could buy it from us for their own production of As You Like It. And, for $150, the deal was done. Our tree will soon plant its roots in another Colorado Arden. After that, who knows? A friend of ours, Gavin Cameron-Webb, who directed in Boulder this summer, saw our show and said our tree reminded him of this picture. Arden has moved to the beach, and grows shells from its branches. It has suffered "a sea change/ Into something rich and strange," becoming now a set for another Shakespeare play: The Tempest. That's the mysterious way things come and go in the life of the theatre.