Once On This Island: The Making [One]

I am currently enrolled in a Production Design class in school and we are required to design “Once On This Island” for our first project. I was more than eager to work on this because I am loving the course so much that I desire to be a professional production designer someday. With that, I went to work straight away and did some research on the background and the setting of the play.



The play takes place in the French Antilles. The time period is a little vague to constrict a particular year to it. Nevertheless, I chose 1920s in Guadeloupe since it was the point in time which most likely commensurate to the events that are happening in the play. Guadeloupe in the 1920s was an assimilation of French and Caribbean cultures as evident in the structure of their houses, the ways of their clothing, and the kinds of food that they were eating. This is a bit challenging for me as a student because it calls for the infusion of cultures without saturating both too much as there still have to be a distinction between the French and the Caribbean (not so much on the Guadeloupean) because that is the substance that I really want to point out in the story.


This is the color palette that I am planning to stick to. The movie “Nim’s Island” was the first visual that came into my mind so it definitely became an inspiration. Blue, pale blue, white, beige, green, and blue green. I am also planning to substitute the abundance of palm trees to sugar canes for a symbolic purpose on peasantry vis-a-vis inequality.


So basically, I want the attack to be on the colonial operation viewpoint of the story. Yes, “Once On This Island” is a musical play that conveys love, happiness, and courage but I want to work this musical with its undertones reverberating in the stage design.


After doing emotional research and digging photos for some inspiration, our class went on to the next step of the process. I began to pen my ideas and exhausted myself for three hours just trying to sketch the stage that I want to put up for this play. I’m sorry, I’m really bad at illustrating figures and space conventions. But I do try my best because I really want to design productions one day 🙂


Okay, I survived the drawing part. But…take a look at my final illustration. TOTAL FAIL. This is definitely not how I imagined the stage to look like. Ugh, it does look like a kid’s art work. It looks like a playground. This is a little frustrating but I have more ideas in mind to make this a lot better, hopefully.


Alright, so I’d better work on that now so I will have something to share in this blog — the final product of my second draft. I’ll keep you guys posted. 🙂

Whistle on, Kat


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