How did you become a designer?
A series of things led me here really. I got into theatre as an exceptionally shy child…following my big sister into drama classes at our youth club. This sparked what I imagine will be a bit of a life long obsession. About 10 years later, having spent a childhood messing around in theatres, I decided to go to university (Royal Holloway) to study it. It was here that a tutor noticed I had a particular interest in creating space and images….they pointed out that being a set designer was a viable career – WOW. So, I applied for an MA at Bristol Old Vic and here I am now…so far, so good.
What attracted you to the project?
Initially it was simply the opportunity to work at the Gate Theatre again. My last experience here was so positive and supportive. It feels like a designer’s building which is rare. Other than that, I think the play really got me excited. Al writes carefully woven, human stories that somehow manage to be completely hilarious and totally heartbreaking at once. Couple that with Chris directing and it looked to me like a bit of a dream team really.
What’s it like working so closely with Chris?
It’s been great. As a designer I really crave conversation around the play. My process isn’t so much drawing as it is talking. Chris as a director challenges me to know the play and really attack it on a dramaturgical level which I love. At the start of the process he said something like “we’ll probably end up taking a long route to a simple answer” – perfect.
Could you explain your process to us?
It really varies from show to show. As I said earlier, it doesn’t tend to involve much drawing, which surprises some people. Ultimately for me, it’s about working closely with a director and riffing with them. This doesn’t always mean harmoniously agreeing all the way through the process but actually challenging one another to think bolder, clearer and harder.
Tell us about your concept for this particular design…
The thing that really struck me about Al's interpretation of Gogol is how much it paints a picture of a changing, modern world that can ultimately leave people behind. That’s fed a great deal into the way I’ve approached the design….let’s see how that materialises.
Catch the previews for Diary of a Madman. 28th-30th July at the Gate Theatre.