Jess wrote a play for three actors, but she added two additional characters: the cars. The cars in Hard and Fast: a love story are a huge part of the story and how to represent them onstage was the major challenge for me as the scenic designer for this production. We knew right away we didn’t need or want to have realistic cars onstage; instead we wanted to create something a little more abstract and flexible. That said, we still wanted to express the specific characters of these cars to the audience. The main cars in the show, the Austin Healey 3000 and the Chevy Fleetline, have distinct front-ends that really look like facial expressions.
My research for the design led me to the work of Damian Ortega, a visual artist who takes car parts and suspends them in space to create a floating, ghostly abstraction of the vehicle. [Images attached] Since our cars needed to be able to move around the space, I designed streamlined metal frames on wheels to suspend the parts rather than hanging them from above. I pared the cars down to their essential elements—things like headlights, grille, hubcaps, etc. The design for the rest of the space developed organically around the design of the cars.