The Wind in the Willows (Corbett Theatre)
By Alan Bennett
Director: Vicky Ireland
Lighting Designer: Paul Williams
For this production based on the children’s classic by Kenneth Grahame I used E.H.Shepard’s original drawings for inspiration for both the set and the costumes. His map from the frontispiece of the book became both the floor and the set itself, although I redrew the positions of the Wild Wood, the Riverbank etc to better suit the needs of the action of our play. Each animal character had elements of their particular animal about them (tails and ears in most cases), enhanced with make-up rather than masks so the actors expressions could be seen. Their costume reflected who their human equivalents might have been, for example the stoats and weasels became gangsters in pin-stripe suits and two-tone shoes.
An Absolute Turkey (Cockpit Theatre)
By Georges Feydeau
Director: Robin Sneller
Lighting Designer: Anders Akermo
This late nineteenth century French farce was updated to the 1970s in this production. It was also played in the round, so there were no actual doors to hide behind although there were four different entrances into the space. The furniture was used in different ways for different scenes, which meant I had to re-invent the sofa bed to fit in with how we wanted to use it. Each interior had a different colour scheme associated with it, to quickly and clearly state we had moved to a different place. The 1970s furnishing details and the costumes themselves were great fun to source.
Welcome to Thebes (ALRA Theatre)
Set in a city called Thebes, some time in the 20th century, this play draws inspiration from Euripides, Sophocles and Aristophanes to show us the consequences and aftermath of a bloody war and a tenuous peace. For this piece the audience sat amongst the rubble and rubbish of the partially destroyed city. The costume was recognisably very ordinary, characters you might meet everyday in the street.
A Pocketful of Dreams (ALRA Theatre)
9 short plays by Tennessee Williams
Director: Katie Lewis
Lighting Designer: Prema Mehta
This was a varied selection of one act plays by Tennessee Williams, covering several different periods. The basic set itself took inspiration from the vernacular architecture of the Deep South. It became nine disparate interiors with the use of different set dressing for each play. Items of furniture were re-used/re-dressed in new ways for different settings.
The Hostage (Corbett Theatre)
By Brendan Behan
Director: Tim Luscombe
Lighting Designer: Vicky Phillips
Set in a “house of ill repute” in Dublin in the 1950s, the play depicts the events leading up to the planned execution of an 18-year-old member of the IRA in a Belfast jail. It has an eclectic cast of characters, with the Irish characters representing different facets of Irish nationalism. The play switches suddenly between comedy, serious political commentary and tragedy. The set was designed as if the walls of the different rooms were still there, but had become see-through for the audience but not the characters themselves.
Dying For It (Battersea Arts Centre)
By Moira Buffini
Director: Gary Sefton
Lighting Designer: Esther Love
Two very different plays used the same basic set for this run at the Battersea Arts Centre. The atmosphere of the set had to change dramatically between shows. For ‘Dying for it’ (a free adaptation of Nikolai Erdman’s satirical comedy ‘The Suicide’) we were in grim, frozen, poverty stricken Soviet Russia. The second play was Lorca’s ‘Dona Rosita the Spinster’ where we have moved to the sun drenched heat of Granada and a much more prosperous household. The set remained the same but was completely re-dressed for each show.
Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass (Corbett Theatre)
Based on the books by Lewis Carroll
Director: John Baxter
Lighting Designer: Daniel Hoffman
Both the set and costumes for this production were very much inspired and influenced by the original illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s classic tale by John Tenniel. I wanted the set to feel like a two dimensional block printed engraving on old foxed paper, with all the characters standing out against it in three dimensions and full colour. The chorus were somewhere in between the two, wearing full body morph suits painted to blend in with the set. At the same time they played a full part in the onstage action.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Corbett Theatre)
By Dale Wasserman
Director: Pam Brighton
Lighting Designer: Esther Love
“Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy, who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. However, his heroic attempts lead to tragedy on the ward”. The play demanded a box set, but we tried to keep away from being too cold and clinical. The costumes and props had a timeless feel, with a nod towards it’s original 1970’s setting.
Happy End (Wilton’s Music Hall)
By Kurt Weill, Elisabeth Hauptman & Bertolt Brecht
Director: Maggie Forsythe
Lighting Designer: Janet Cantrill
This musical comedy in 3 acts is reminiscent of “Guys & Dolls”. It is set at Christmas 1919, in the last days before the enactment of Prohibition in America in January 1920. Hallelujah Lil, a Salvation Army lieutenant, tries to save the souls of Bill Cracker and his fellow gang members. The dilapidated grandeur of the venue itself inspired the design, colour and finish for the set and costumes. The backdrop was formed from giant dollar bills.
The Schoolmistress (ALRA Theatre)
By AW Pinero
Director: Chris Monks
Lighting Designer: Aideen Malone
The Schoolmistress features a heroine who leads a double life as a very proper Victorian lady by day (as director of a girls’ finishing school), but by night she fulfills her dream of being a diva of the opera. This production was in the round, where every detail in the furniture, props and costume chosen became incredibly important.