Take 5 … with In Dreams Set Designer Arnulfo Maldonado  

17 Jul 2023


Quickfire questions about the world of In Dreams 

1: Can you tell us a bit about how you are creating the world of In Dreams on our Courtyard stage? 

When I started looking at the design, I was inspired by South American and New Mexico signage to create the world of this family-run Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe, which is the main backdrop for the production. I looked at vintage signs from that area; how they are so vibrant and full of colour and how they are being used in more modern bars and restaurants but also give that classic diner feel which I hope comes across in the design.  


2: The show incorporates the iconic music of Roy Orbison, how have his songs inspired your design?  

I think with any musical or show with music, I get inspired by the lyrics and tracks. At the start of the process, I was given a playlist of the songs and used them as my soundtrack while I was designing. The design is less literally inspired by the songs but by the flow and rhythm of his music.   


3: What element of your design are you most excited about seeing on stage?  

I’m excited to see the minimal elegance but also the way we are using video, created by Video Designer George Reeve. It wasn’t the first thing I thought of but, having seen the advances in the technology, I was inspired to see how the video wall could play in conversation with the script. It allows us to be transported to different places and times of the day via the changing sky.  

Going back to those vintage signs, I’m really looking forward to how light will transform the space. I’ve really enjoyed collaborating with Lighting Designer Howard Hudson on how we can bring them to life.  


4: The Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a running theme in the production – what does it mean to you? 

I grew up celebrating the Day of the Dead. My family are primarily from Mexico and Texas so I was brought up celebrating the Día de los Muertos. It is a very spiritual day, not a day of mourning but of celebration. It’s a celebration of life and of those who have passed. Death is coming to all of us, but we want to celebrate the life we have led instead.  

I was also inspired by the colour palette that is so well-known from the classic imagery of the Day of the Dead. I have tried to use that in my design – especially the colours of the beautiful marigold flowers.  


5: How do you think audiences will react to your design? 

I would love for them to walk out reflecting on their own lives and celebrating the uniqueness of the people around them.   

Part of the appeal of the show is looking at death and, rather than mourning, celebrating the rich lives people have lived – taking what you can and making the most of it.  

It’s a really fun musical full of joy that will hopefully inspire everyone.  



Gallery of production images


    Arts Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • LTB Foundation
  • Principal Partner

    Caddick Group
  • Principal Access Partner

    Irwin Mitchell