These days every Shakespearian production faces the choice of where and when to locate the action. This play in particular is troublesome in both place and time.
“We go between two countries in the play, Sicilia and Bohemia. But they don’t seem to reflect the real places. For example, Bohemia has a seacoast in the play, but the real Bohemia doesn’t.”
But the two places are clearly different in the play, so to emphasize this, Robison chose a general but sharp distinction: West versus East.
“When you look at the context within the play,” she said, “you see some classical Greek references in the Sicilia section. So we chose to make it our West, and to emphasize those references by setting it in a neoclassical age—the late 18th century Napoleonic Directoire period of neoclassical architecture and apparel.”
“For Bohemia, we moved it to the East, where any number of places have hot, dry lands and a seacoast. We aren’t more specific than that—we looked at Morroco, at Turkey, India, at a lot of Eastern architecture, and then just sort of invented our own Bohemia.”
“So you won’t necessarily identify anything as specific to one country or another, we kind of mixed it up with Turkish folks songs and so on. It’s what we might romantically think of as a foreign land.”