“Stunningly and innovatively designed”
“With the ingenious aid of Stephen M. Cyr’s set, the mobile and multifunctional world was transformative yet simple.”
Theater In The Now

The Tunnel Play is caught between the lives above and below the streets of New York City, and focuses on themes of how easily money and materialism can get in the way of our quest for happiness. The backdrop of the play is a storm of epic proportions threatening the lives of New Yorkers. The world we created was abstract and fantastical with a laser-like deliberation toward minimalism as we wanted it to feel like a contemporary piece of mythology geared toward a generation of people stuck in the rat race.


The realities of a fringe festival mean your designs must be easy to load in and out in 15 minutes, and the realities of NYC make even that not easy to do. I developed a production concept that was incredibly practical, served the world of the show, while also telling a story in its own right, encapsulating a layer of the thematic bones in a symbolic way.
Thoughts and early sketches
Thoughts and early sketches

The script actually calls for a whole “underground neighborhood of people…rows of dwellings…colorful world of discarded trash that makes up a chaotic landscape of colors.” Quickly you discover through the opening monologue that the show is about the duality between transience and place, “believing that I was just existing down here between events. The time between one place or another. But this is my place, my forever place. I live here. We all do.” By the end of the show there are fires and a storm. Our characters lose their material possessions, their homes, everything they have placed a sense of self into, everything they used to define their place in this world—but maybe they have discovered a different way to understand their belonging.

An office scene between Colin and his boss

I devised a language of trunks, deliberately personalized and carrying all the props used in the show. It is unclear in the beginning of the play when we see two women who live in the subway tunnels whether or not the trunks on stage are diegetic. But as we start to see characters who live above ground only existing out of trunks as well, the audience begins to question.

As the trunks are being used as desks and walls and bar counters, and being dragged around like they are the only vessels these characters know, we start to understand them as purely metaphorical. The only other “scenic” elements were poles—poles that stood for various things and that the characters clung on to sometimes as if they were the only thing helping them stand.

Seeking solace in a bar during the storm
Scene plans
Sketches working out the trunk function

This hideaway is not colorful.
It is the darkest of dark.
A black hole.
The flood: a supernova.

Highlight Reel

Theatre Production

The Tunnel Play

Scenic Design / Properties Design
New York International Fringe Festival 2014
The Dirty Blondes, The Kraine Theater, NY
By: Ashley J. Jacobson
Director: Courtney Laine Self
Lighting Designer: Michael O'Connor
Costume Designer: Holly Cain