Portfolio Index
The Mikado
Arthur Dirks
Portfolio Index

The Mikado

By W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan

Produced: October, 2002
Bridgewater State College
Director:Henry Shaffer
Scenery & Lighting: Arthur Dirks
Facility:Campus Center Auditorium

Act I setting
Act I Stage setting


I had never designed operetta before, and this was a challenge. I had to find some way of acknowledging the layers of imitation in this work. The work has almost nothing whatsoever to do with Japan, but is set there. Yet the production is usually lavishly expressive of Japan. After ground plan agreement, Henry said he hoped it would look like a Japanese painting. He also reversed the locations of the acts, opening in the exterior. I decided to frame the painting in a Victorian setting, a feature not seen in these images. I used an architectural show portal (see Menlo Park), and a simpler second portal. Within this I put a floating worlds screen painting, a pine tree carved on the inside lid of a writing box, and a railing from a 9th century bridge. The second act introduced a collage of interior features highlighted by enlarged paintings of iris and bamboo from 18th century screens. The bamboo screen flew for the Emporor's entrance and it snowed rose petals in the finale. But in the end the language and music never let the audience forget the larger frame.

Act II setting
Act II Stage setting

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All original content © 2007 copyright Arthur L. Dirks