Part 2: Behind the scenes with The 12 Days of Christmas designer Tommy Bourgeois
Image: A Glimpse of 5 Golden Rings Gazebo
The Dallas Arboretum will be transformed into a scene straight out of Victorian times when The 12 Days of Christmas exhibit opens November 16. We sat down with Tommy Bourgeois, Dallas Opera production designer and creative mastermind behind this year’s whimsical yuletide display, to learn about the inspiration behind this spectacular holiday event.
Read more about how the exhibit came to life in the first blog post in this series. Below, find all you need to know and more about these very special gazebos!
What has been the most challenging part of designing the gazebos?
I would have to say the engineering of the structures. They have to withstand a variety of weather conditions and bear the weight of the glass and props. The mechanization of the movements is ingenious.
Is the mechanical function of the gazebos an element often utilized in your role as a production designer?
Not so much, which is why the talented craftsmen who work at Dallas Stage Scenery (DSS) engineered most of it. I just gave them the general type of movement I wanted for each day as well as the range of motion, and they did all the creation. It was like they were building giant mechanical toys! It was just amazing to me.
Which gazebo has been the trickiest to build?
Props and movement wise, I would say the 10th day (10 lords a leaping) had some concerns. Making sure the skaters had enough room to turn and spin and getting the props in there was a little tight. I guess you could also say the ninth day (nine ladies dancing) was a little tricky getting those ladies to travel and spin—a great bit of engineering by the DSS staff.
Which of the gazebos is your personal favorite? Why?
That is hard to say. The fifth day (five golden rings) and the ninth day (nine ladies dancing) stand out. I think the whimsy of the fifth day works well. It was designed for children—a little unexpected, but fun. To me the ninth day is just a great costume project. Getting to create nine gorgeous Victorian gowns is a dream.
Start a new family tradition with a visit to the Dallas Arboretum’s 12 Days of Christmas exhibit. This world of Victorian Christmas delights will be on display November 16, 2014, through January 4, 2015. Buy your advance tickets now before it’s too late!
Image: Dressing the hair for the 11 Pipers Piping – Cookie Jordan (far side) is in town this week from New York. This exhibit boasts of all local craftsmanship except the hair and feathering, which was done in California.