Set designer seeks to make paper dreams real for stage production

By Dionne Christian , Dionne Christian

Designer Ella Mazrahi wants to build an entire stage set out of paper and needs your help. Photo / Supplied
Designer Ella Mazrahi wants to build an entire stage set out of paper and needs your help. Photo / Supplied

Wondering what to do with boxes of old music manuscripts tucked away in the garage? Maybe you just happen to have a whole lot of notes from university or drafts of never-published novels that you're keen to be rid of?

If so, set designer Ella Mizrahi wants to hear from you sooner rather than later. Mizrahi is building the set for Auckland Theatre Company's latest production, Amadeus, entirely from recycled paper and needs around 20,000 sheets to fill a stage space 26m x 11m plus create some special effects.

She's especially keen on music manuscripts seeing as the play is set in Vienna where court composer Antonio Salieri (Michael Hurst) is the toast of the town - until Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Ross McCormack) bursts upon the scene.

"I picture Salieri surrounded by a swirling mass of sheets of paper, preferably musical scores, dropping from the sky as jealousy and 'Mozart madness' starts infiltrating every part of his life," Mizrahi says.

"It means we need stacks and stacks of paper and I want to use recycled paper from all over Auckland."

So far, she's had donations from companies like Atwoods, B&F Papers and Boston Digital.

Finding enough paper isn't her only concern. Health and safety regulations mean the paper has to be sprayed with a fire retardant. Mizrahi talked with a specialist who, upon hearing what she needed, chuckled and told her "you sure like a challenge".

She agrees that's true but it's a hallmark of her creative career. She's one half of Celery Productions which, among other corporate and public arts events, organised Auckland's Art in the Dark festival for four years, attracting up to 50,000 people at its most successful.

"It seems to be in my work that I often come up with these stupidly big ideas that are impossible to execute but somehow I make it work. For one event, I made 3000 origami birds to come of water but, yes, sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into!"

If you can help, contact Auckland Theatre Company on (09) 3090390 or atc@atc.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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