Welcome to Yuba City

Pig Iron Theatre Company, Philadelphia, 2009


Welcome to Yuba City explores the identity, mystery, and absurdity of mythic America. Created as a caricature of an isolated western outpost, it manifested the great expanse of the American West within the relative vastness of an urban warehouse.


One of my primary interests in the work was to investigate how light could become a caricature of itself. The acknowledgment of light in this way created a framework for the design to respond to the narrative not only thematically but also emotionally. Each design element pushed this duality of character and caricature in the same way that the actors performed their roles. Outside the diner, a fluorescent sign flickered when certain ominous characters approached, the painted desert landscape was lit as if it was a roadside billboard, and a light that mimicked the sun was hoisted up and down on a pulley. Inside the diner, soliloquies were sung at the counter lit by the glow of a neon green clock and scenes could play out in the truck as if they were on the open road.


A warehouse is not always equipped to accommodate the needs of a full-scale theatrical production. In this case, the extreme limitations of both power and budget required intense collaboration and wildly creative design solutions to meet the demands of this physically expansive production. Ultimately, we were able to dramatically portray an incredibly large diner surrounded by an ever- expansive desert landscape, the occasional musical number, and an eventual alien invasion.



Directed by: Quinn Buariedel

Written by: Deborah Stein

Scenic Design by: Mimi Lien

Sound Design by: Daniel Kluger

Costume Design by: Maiko Matsushima

Choreography by: Christina Zani

Lighting Design by: James Clotfelter

Photography: Chrissy K Photography