What’s With the Game Board?

setshot

Scenic Design by Joe Ragey / Photo by Kevin Berne

When you come to see Around the World in 80 Days, it may not look like what you were expecting. You’ll be greeted with a show curtain that reads “Le Tour du Monde en 80 Jours,” surrounded with sweeping railroad tracks that seemingly encircle the set.

But there’s a method to the madness. Joe Ragey’s set design is inspired by a chromolithograph game board of Around the World in 80 Days, c. 1904-1915, by Roche Frères Printing, Paris. The board itself is used as a backdrop and on the side walls of the set, while the cover of the box, with the title in the original French, serves as a front curtain for the show.

box lid

The game board represents scenes from Jules Verne’s 1872 novel, with thumbnail illustrations numbered from 1 to 80 arranged counterclockwise and encircling a map of the world (which also appears on the floor of our set). The game board includes some anachronisms such as an illustration of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor (dedicated in 1886) and cable cars in San Francisco (which first debuted a year after Verne’s novel). The great popularity of Verne’s book, and of a theatrical adaptation that he co-authored around 1880, inspired the production of an unusually large number of spin-off products in France, including several games.

Jules Verne, 'Around the World in 80 days', 'Jeu de l'oie' (Snakes and ladder games)

Join us at the Lucie Stern Theatre this holiday season to see this fantastical set – and all the secrets that will come when we take the lid off of the box. Performances begin tonight!

For more information, visit theatreworks.org.

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