Interesting People

This page is a collection of notes from lectures from different professionals working in the Theatre industry. 

Red Earth 8th Oct 13

Red Earth is a company that devises for young people and the community,  and have in recent years worked with the Deaf Community. They believe in making work with a good story that they can believe in. They want to make connections with their audience and engage them in what it is to be human.

The company is a creative case for diversity,  as artists they are open to the diversity of our society and work to encompass it as much as possible.  Inclusive Theatre, with lots of voices on stage that show a reflection of society.

They use original techniques found through devising performance to tell stories in  way that is equally acessable to both hearing and hearing impaired audience members. They use a mix of English BSL ans SSE to tell stories that teach empathy and socialisation.  ‘Stories like dreams have a way of taking care of people,  showing them the way.’

There are some difficulties in achieving this, our language has a particular rhythm which sometimes clashes with the rhythm of BSL, so the audience responds at different times. There is also the practicality of desin, costume and set has to be sensitive to seeing the signers hands.

Anthropomorphism with Peter Farley 4th Oct

Anthropomorphism is the Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena. In theatre designers often costume actors and dancers in costumes that we recognize as animals.

In costume there is a line from fully animal form to human like with elements or suggestions of animal. We use it as a devise to tell stories as well as take risks to say something that is too difficult to say in other ways. As an audience we are able to suspend disbelief and accept the character being presented.

beatrix potter royal ballet

Beatrix Potter Royal Ballet

John MacFarlane

John MacFarlane


Lion King

zebrah - still life at penguin cafe

Hayden Griffen ‘Still life at the penguin cafe’


Colin Richman ‘Animal Farm’


Barbara Clayden Wind in the Willows

Drawing Costume designs: 

– time to think about what it is and how to achieve what you want to

– know what you want to portray

-makers can interpret the qualities of the drawing, so it matters what media you use and how you use it.

-take marks from drawing into costume

– creates a style that can be translated to the stage


John MacFarlane ‘Cinderella’

MacFarlane studies the animal through drawing it before he designs so that is van see the best way to represent and create.

The production rarely lives up to the drawing but they can inspire the makers and the performer in creating character. It is the process between drawing and performance that is most interesting in evolving the character as it is when the design is influence by the maker, director, choreographer and the performer.

  • Dominic Shaw Urban Angel 1st October

  • 15 years ago, 16 year olds weren’t able to sign on, so there became big problems. The government gave money to companies to get disengaged youths involved in theatre.

  • Their target is to help people on the fringes of society,  the hard to reach see a way back into society.  The idea is to show them how to become people again using performance. Make them believe it is possible! To engage people with the idea of society and education, giving them hope and expectations for their life. The try to reform through providing a path back into society.

The collaborators are also from that background which means they can have empathy with the individual. They work in their communities,  so they can take the theatre to them.

They work mainly in a site specific, promenade,  immersive area of theatre with three leading collaborators and the young people becoming the company. A lot of their work involves film and live performance to devise work based around what the youth members of the company are interested in.

Through creating a performance they are given something to be proud of and even small changes are big milestones.

Sophie Jump 30th Sept 2013

Seven sisters group is a movement based, site specific performance company.

Train Station 

-architecture, social history, observing how the space was used, the physicallity of people using the space

– respond to the space, performance is embedded, originates from the space

-audience became heightened, more aware of the space, space became familiarised

Salome St Pancreas Chambers

-based on biblical story

-audience followed path of red thread through space

-installations in different parts of the building

-live performance and recorded videos projected. one installation where a live performer interacted with recording of themselves.

The Forest

-primeval fear of the woods, cultural history, stories we were told as children

-audience explore space and are engrossed in expereince as they find their own way coming across parts of the story

-elements of fairy tale

-in the woods you  are able to exits outside of the norms of society

Like a Fish Out of Water with English National Ballet at Hampton and Uxbridge Lidos

-site specific in more than one place

-small groups of audience follow filmed recording on an ipod through the space

– using the ipods allowed them to incorporate underwater scenes

-researched the history, which brought up connections with the acceptance of women, so chose to follow one woman’s story

How Sophie Designs

She doesn’t make models as she works in the space developing and trying out options. when working with other collaborate she has to draw and story board more in order to communicate her ideas. she has recently seen the link between her work with Seven Sisters group and her work in theatres, the site become the script into which you can research.

11th March Dance and Scenography Panel Discussion with Maria Hassabi and Miguel Pereira 

The discussion was centered around ideas realting to the creation of performance environments for dance, from the choreographers perspective.

What is scenography to them?

  • Has to be quite econmic – take a show on tour so like to have every thing in a bag. They would rather spend money on people they work with rather that ‘sets’
  • the body is the most important thing in creating the space.
  • LIGHT – You go to ‘see’ dance and light is vital to seeing.
  • Miguel likes to take something from one piece that has come to and end and take it forward into the next. Always progessing and delevoping a connection bewteen his work.

What is Choreography?

  • Body
  • Space
  • Time

The process

  • The dance/movement comes first and determines the lighting and sound so they are not formed together. Often in Maria’s work the sound doesn’t directly influence the movement although as a dancer you are reacting to the sound and light.

25th Feb 2013 Amanda Whittington, author the adaption of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning   

Why did she want to write an adaption of Sillitoe’s novel?

  • It was still relevant and contemporary and still is today.
  • Arthur’s angry voice is so animated, fresh and timeless
  • The female characters are strong women (she likes to create strong female characters – ‘Be My Baby’)

She was more interested in allowing the audience to see him in different ways through the women. She was less influenced by the factory, which is why there is only one scene in the factory.

Because of her approach she had to find a balance between a feminist layer and the context of what Silltoe had written. Her interest in the female characters meant that she had to ‘flesh out the women.’ They are all trapped and looking for a way out. she wanted to show the truth of women’s lives in that environment.

She was influenced by ‘Kitchen Sink Dramas’ such as ‘A Taste of Honey.’

The novel is  complexly multi-locational and so she had to strip down the book to the core of a rigid wold where you lived by the clock, keeping it fast, edgy and brutal.

This she wanted to contrast with the sense of relief of Goose Fair. she wants this scene to be a burst of colour light and life. Magical and a taste  of freedom. But also conjuring her own memory of emotions from going to goose fair when she was younger – an edgy and scary energy.

Originally it was written for a touring company that was performing in very small venues, this impacted how she wrote the play. It was important to keep the fluidity of the story to allow the production to be successful in these venues.

The piece is written in a naturalistic style, but it cannot be performed and designed in this naturalistic style. In the original production the actors moved the set, giving a working and physical quality. The play itself is breaks the fourth wall, as Arthur addresses the audience  a lot of the places and events are created by his words that summon up images in the audiences imaginations.

She wanted the ending to be a right of passage, very simple with a sense of hope. The final image should be one frozen in time, like the photos of our parents and grandparents.

Arthur is such a well know character and although she did not want to change him her own interpretation of his is inevitable. She wanted the audience to be appalled by him/his behavior and yet cant help but admire him and sympathize with him.

When creating a character she asks herself 3 questions:

Who does the character think they are?

Who do the other character think they  are?

Who does the audience think they are?

If you can answer all the questions with a different answer you have created a three dimensional character.

6th Feb 2013 Liz Rodeal, National Portrait Gallery, Jacobean Costume

  • There was a brief fashion for painting pregnant women – mortailty rates were high in childbirth so wealthy woman would be painted when they were young in case they died. It was also a sign of wealth to have lots of children.
  • They only washed their undergarments. Outer clothes would be brushed down.
  • Plated hair or silk was worn around the wrist and was sometime connected to jewelry.
  • A feather in the hair was worn by those who wanted to show off their wealth as they were exotic.
  • In painting they would often be standing on a carpet, to show their wealth as carpets had to be imported.
  • The women wore very low necklines. very few people would see them so they weren’t concerned with modesty.

16th Jan 2013 James Farncombe 

  • A designer has a lot of influence over the lighting design so the relationship between theatre designer and lighting designer is a very important one
  • Light is crucial to any composition
  • Light can be symbolic

‘I never saw an ugly thing in my life; for let an object be what be what it may – light shade and perspective will always make it beautiful.’ John Constable 1776-1837

How does the physical set inform the lighting?

  • where to light from. The set will determine where you can rig lights and therefore where the light source comes from. This will effect the affect of the light. ( if you light from the front it becomes very flat.)
  • Does the light need to suggest different locations.
  • How might you use light to define a space?

Are specific materials needed to achieve certain effects?

  • Gauze can change the aesthetics of the light and what is behind it. 

How will the costumes work in the light?

Does the design already incorporate element of lighting?

  • practicals (tend to be low level as a suggestion of light bu the main source comes from somewhere else.)

Is there scope to introduce alternative light sources?

Does the chosen aesthetic allow the source to be seen by the audience or does it need to be hidden?

Where does the set design end and the lighting design begin?

A lighting designer must control the darkness as well as use the light.

28th Nov Patrick Connellan Verbatim and the Authentic

‘The imagined real story’ Arthur Miller

Realism – REAL, real life. Basis in reality

What is Verbatim Theatre?

  • The real. Word for Word.
  • documented and performed.

Importance (interested in ordinary people’s lives)

  • Theatre as an event
  • Documenting theatre
  • Authenticity
  • Holding society to account and bearing witness. Not journalism but theatre
  • Personal testimony and validation (individuals being given a chance to have a platform)
  • Political platform
  • Influence of the real on drama

People and Companies : Studs Terkel, Joan Littlewood and Theatre Workshop, Peter Cheeseman (and The Victoria Theatre -Documenty Theatre), Tribunal Theatre Tricycle, Robin Soans, Alecky Blyth.

21st November Nadia Malik 

Nadia Malik is a costume designer, whose background is in textiles and commercial lingerie. Her journey into costume design was fuelled by her love of dance, music and theatre. Through her work she looks at the body, in time and space, with a focus on what the body is and what it represents. This is shown through her fascination with why things are/were worn in different periods and cultures.

The idea of portraying character to an audience is something that features very strongly in much of Nadia Malik’s work. Her design style is bold and exciting, with a clear narrative which not only defines but also enhances the character being presented.  Her costumes for ‘The way to the sea’ are a good example of exaggerated costume to show character. The performance took place in a sea side village, it was piece of promenade theatre where the audience were often a distance from the performers so it was costume that made them recognisable and allowed them to get a picture of Thorpeness but also reflect upon the darker themes of the piece.

31st Oct 2012 Ame Henderson

  • Dance artist
  • choreography – making relationships in time and space


  • scenography and lighting as one
  • Panels of light
  • travel with the set
  • music and objects come together
  • audience invited into the installation the separated into the auditorium

The most together we’ve ever been

  • collection of objects
  • too organised
  • objects taken, paused on stage, returned
  • little interaction – two things inrelationship/ exist in frount of it
  • stylised movement
  • begining over and over
  • looking at the moment when you meet the audience
  • tiptoe like visitors on stage
  • audience are left alone a lot.

300 Tapes

  • narrativity
  • rotation in 3’s
  • stage concept became influence then integration
  • verbatim
  • tapes break down – MEMORY
  • 2 Performances never the same
  • ‘When you remember you remember the last time you remembered’
  • always changing

10th Oct 2012 Andrew Breakwell Writing for Children and Young People

What is theatre for children?

  • educational
  • have a moral
  • bright and exciting
  • big gestures
  • entertainment
  • interactive
  • playful
  • imaginative
  • social skills
  • exaggerated
  • cultural
  • accessible
  • issue based
  • story telling

Different Types

  • Children’s Theatre (large and small scale)
  • T.I.E
  • Classroom Theatre
  • Peer Education Theatre
  • Educational Theatre
  • Theatre in Health Education

Teachers and parents are ‘gatekeepers’ the decide what the children see.

‘A Theatre is the most important house in the world because that’s where people are shown what they could be if they wanted, what they ‘d like to be if they dared and what they really are.’

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