The design concept for Zac the Hero, is based upon the principle that by trying to find out the sort of person he is, or can become, Zac is an entire universe of self-interest. In this way, the physical world as we know it, is full of similar people trying to find their way – or universes, within universes.
Using this as a base concept, the set design for this production is very simple, minimal and functional. Different levels will define space on the set. The minimal set essentially creates a ‘blank canvas' which allows for a palate of possibilities whilst engaging child imagination. It allows the audience to make to create their own meaning, making this production relatable and transformational. As the set is fundamentally basic, props and costumes will be objects that are important in the production. As with costume, and lighting and sound, all props in Zac The Hero are created by all members of the production, using craft materials such as bamboo and domestic objects. Production Supervisor, Michael Smalley, explains the foundation of using such objects and craft materials to make set props, by asserting - "…we want to show our audience that they can do these things!".
The set for Zac the Hero is very basic, using the analogy of a young boy's mind. The use of black signifies space and the cosmos, representing Zac's brain and the potential for endless possibilities. The use of colours is limited to the primary colours (red, blue and green), keeping in with the theme of the simplicity. To assist with the telling of the story, props are used by the performers. Although there are actual props used, many are held up by the performers. For example, when a bed is needed, two performers hold up either end, and are able to transport the prop wherever it is needed.
As theatre is always a collaborative artform, all kinds of artists with different specialties combine their talents together to create a production. As with costume design, it is an important premise in Zac the Hero, that all 44 performers are involved in the production of the music, and further, the operation of the sound and lighting board. This also helps children to remember that what is being created is make-believe and not real, as they are aware that someone is actively operating the lighting and sound board. The lighting scheme used is very simple, using only what is necessary with a few special affects. There is what is called a ‘wash' for the day scenes and the night scenes. This is where the lights are washed over the stage to create a certain mood, in this case either day or night. Where there is colour required, once again only the primaries of red, blue and green are used.
Sound plays an important part in this show, using song and music to convey the sense of space and the mystical journey. For example, the song I Need a Hero, the Bonnie Tyler version is used to push the need for Zac to be a hero for fairyland. Another prominent bit of music used is the corroboree performed by the Falling People. To individualise the four ‘worlds' in this production, music is used in a way to separate the doco world, the world inside Zac's head, Fairyland and the ‘real' world. The lighting in Zac will also reflect this. This is an important aspect in this production, as this allows the audience to make a clear distinction between these worlds, and thus allows the story to flow smoothly.
With a vast array of fairy-tale like creatures, and characters differing in size, shape and form, costume design is of particular importance to individual character identity in this production. As Zac the Hero involves many characters which have metaphoric meaning, this identification is not merely a physical one. In this way, it was important to design costumes in an expressionistic manner, by discovering the metaphoric meaning behind each character and designing a costume which represents that meaning, rather than designing a definite realistic recognition of what species of creature each character is. Each of the 44 performers are also involved in costume design. In this manner, the individual characteristics of every performer influences each and every costume design. As creator of this production, Scott Alderdice highlights "each of the 44 people feeding in on our costume design … is balanced with an understanding and awareness of the intended audience, allowing us to extend these different influences to a very satisfying and meaningful limit."