clickspring set the stage for the democratic primary debates with minimalism and patriotism

clickspring set the stage for the democratic primary debates with minimalism and patriotism

an expansive LED backdrop, a circular space-frame truss illuminated with stars, and restrained, minimal podiums helped set the stage for each of CNN’s democratic primary debates. the first debate of the season took place at the historic fox theatre in detroit. both nights saw the space on full display, and its gleaming ornament and vaulting scale presented a nice foil for clickspring’s comparatively minimal scenic design. designboom previously featured clickspring’s immersive stage design for the first debate of the 2020 presidential campaign cycle held in miami.

the CNN democratic primary debate at fox theatre in detroit



scenically, clickspring introduced an overhead element, which is an uncommon decision for debate sets that need to travel between a variety of venues with short installation windows. the circular space frame is angled above the stage with a band of five-pointed stars circumscribed within two thin pinstripes. the symbolism harkens back to designs for the earliest american flag, with a result that is a vertically expansive, and fills the viewing field for both the camera and members of the audience.

the gleaming fox theatre presented a nice backdrop for clickspring’s comparatively minimal scenic design



the stage traveled next to westerville, ohio, where, paired with a new proscenium and wrap-around graphics, it turned a gym into a custom debate hall. this election cycle offered clickspring the chance to take a new approach, pairing down the geometry substantially to just two intersecting forms: a thick, rectangular extrusion that passes through a thinner, metallic blade. the thin component is angled downstage before folding back onto itself to become the podium’s lid. the inner rectangular volume is a shallow, frosted color scrolling light box that creates a seamless gradient from top to bottom. the simplified forms are decidedly unfussy and create a bold onstage presence.

a circular space frame is angled above the stage with a band of five-pointed stars



additionally, unlike traditional theatrical stage design, the scenery was engineered to be dynamic from the beginning. over the course of a campaign, and as the field of candidates narrows, fewer podiums will mean adjustments to podium positions, camera shots, moderator proximity, and a host of other production-related considerations that affect camera blocking and stage positions. with this in mind, the scenery was designed to be modular to allow the large, arced LED backdrop to adjust its radius to accommodate smaller venues and fewer candidates over the duration of the primary season.

the symbolism of the ring harkens back to designs for the earliest american flag

the CNN democratic primary debate on the campus of otterbein university in westerville, ohio

clickspring turned a gym into a custom debate hall

the design featured a new proscenium and wrap-around graphics



project info: 


design: clickspring
fabrication and AV: production resource group (PRG)
lighting: CNN’s michelle poley and production resource group (PRG)

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