I wanted the poster design for the 2020 production of Martha to have a very different feel to this year's Norma. As usual I received a comprehensive brief from Dorothy and Michael as to the elements of the storyline that they wanted to convey. Then it was down to me to come up with a number of options.
The opera isn't well known, although its song, The Last Rose of Summer, may well be familiar to many even if they don't know the source. I wanted to include the rose element and that was my starting point. I tried a variety of ideas just featuring a red rose, held in a hand, with almost a monotone colour way save for the red of the petals. But these initial designs were if anything too gloomy, and Martha isn't a tragic opera.
So I went back to the drawing board and looked again at the brief and decided to focus on representing something of the two main characters instead.
Any successful poster design has to marry images with the text - both need to be legible. I started with the heading of Martha, and the venue and ticket details, then worked on the imagery. The action takes place at a fair and that was another firm element to include, perfectly represented by colourful bunting. This also helps to anchor the text areas. Then it was a matter of creating still life images, which call to mind the two protagonists.
I organised a photoshoot, gathering the pieces, grouped around the footwear - practical wellington boots, and impractical red stiletto shoes! Then it was a matter of adding further props to embellish the image without overloading it. I arranged the items in various ways but wasn't happy with the boots until I added the potatoes and cabbage to suggest a gentleman farmer. The red shoe vignette came next and hopefully it indicates our good time girl searching for some fun. Then it was a matter of playing with the scale of the images, and adding some background colourful rings, another nod to all the fun of the fair, to highlight them.
I had designed the poster with a white background initially, but changing it to yellow which I think suits the jaunty storyline. It also should draw the eye too...and encourage people to see what Martha is all about and book those tickets.
But, just what is the relevance of the money? And why would a girl on a night out, anticipating a cocktail or two, be doing with a rubber glove in her evening bag? You'll just have to come along and see!