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  • Hard to pin down: Callum Morton’s new set for the Melbourne Theatre Company

    2019 - 09.21

    Callum Morton on the set he designed for the Melbourne Theatre Company production of Endgame. Photo: Penny StephensIn an age where design is elevated to the same status as art, Callum Morton happily flits between the two. The new set he has designed for the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Beckett’s Endgame should not be, he says, seen as a signature Morton artwork.
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    “I want audiences be seeing a set that works on stage. Its not art, its design. You try and make things works for the specificity of the performance,”

    Aiding him on the journey to anonymity is Beckett himself, whose directions are both elusive and strict.

    “The cues are very specific and indeed the Beckett Foundation ensures they are kept to. I was interested in working inside that limit and seeing what you could do.”

    It’s not the first time Morton, head of visual art at Monash University, has turned his hand to set-making. His earlier collaboration with director Sam Strong and MTC was on Other Desert Cities in 2013.

    “In Other Desert Cities, it was a specific time in Palm Springs modernist architecture you could place it in a world.”

    “With Beckett, I did start by testing it in particular places. We knew it needed bare interiors, two windows high up, a door at stage right, a picture back to front on the wall, grey light.”

    Morton then started to play with the ideas of a window where ocean is on one side and land is on the other. A lighthouse was the natural conclusion.

    “There’s all sorts of possibilities inside a tight frame. It’s kind of like the world Beckett describes which is contained and tortured.”

    “Because Beckett is such an ambiguous figure, he’s equally a modernist and a postmodernist, he’s quite elusive. His work is hard to design because it’s never in a place. It’s not a non-place but every time you try and locate it disappears from your grasp.”

    Endgame is at the Sumner, Southbank Theatre, until April 25.

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