The Tender Land is an American opera that takes place in the Midwest. Set Designer Donald Eastman has incorporated a field of four-foot-tall wheat into his design for the opera – not an uncommon sight when traveling through the plains. You may remember our previous post on our visit to Cooperstown’s Farmers’ Museum for research on which grain might work best for our purposes. We had discovered that wheat doesn’t actually grow to be four feet tall. In an ideal world, we would probably have triticale, a rye/wheat hybrid. However, we don’t have quite enough growing in this area for our uses.
Farmer Rick at The Farmers’ Museum put us in touch with Paul Newjack, a farmer in nearby Milford. He donated 400 square feet of rye to the set of The Tender Land. Abby Rodd, Director of Production, and some of her team members went to harvest it last week. We borrowed the sythes seen in the pictures below from The Farmers’ Museum. After a quick lesson on using the sythes from Farmer Rick, the team was off to Paul Newjack’s farm. The wheat was laid out to dry in front of our scene shop yesterday. Next, we will spray it all down with water to help bleach it and then we will fire proof it.
Rodd said we will probably have to purchase some triticale to mix in with the rye. Designer Eastman prefers the bigger head on the triticale, but the rye will be used to create a thicker field of wheat on stage.