For our second main assignment in Graphic Design I, we were asked to design a poster for a play in the upcoming 2006-2007 UMD theatre season. I was assigned to¬†The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, a play set in 1890s Dublin where a woman is secretly posing as a man working at a tavern/inn. She fears she will be revealed when a man comes and must share “Albert’s” bed. The man turns out to be another woman forced by society to assume the role of a man to be successful.

In my preliminary sketches, I was quickly drawn to the idea of a corset as metaphor. Women during this time period were forced to physically contort themselves to be attractive to men; in the play, “Albert” is contorting him/herself in the extreme, she has become man. In the first versions, the play title itself is bound into the corset, shoved inside the silouhette of a corsetted man/woman. A moustache contrasts the feminine groin, figure, and lack of Adam’s apple.


I was unhappy with the typography and my professor was not too keen on the crotch, which lead me to the cropped version. The cropped version ends ip more effective because it incorporates Rosewood and Zebrawood, two typefaces often used at the height of the woodblock type craze, the era the play is set in.


The over the top, crammed, sensationalist wood block type became the basis for my second design. The words overpower the image and jumble into nonsense, which I hope still catches attention. Passerbys will be forced to stop and decipher the poster’s full message. The bold “UMD THEATRE PRESENTS” informs even a casual viewer that this is a theatre poster, and the performance dates are the most emphasized elements in the visual hierarchy after the title. The sensational “AUTOPSY REVEALS MAN TO BE WOMAN” hints at the play’s storyline, though I fear it might be saying too much. I need to discuss the designs with the director before I can go any further.


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