Production designer appointed
We are very excited to have appointed a young designer, Rachael Smith, for our production. The role was hotly contested. We received thirty-eight applications for the role, then shortlisted and interviewed seven designers and were really pleased that Rachael is going to be involved in making our play a success.
Rachael’s past design projects
We were very impressed with Rachael’s experience of working on large-scale community projects and she told us about two examples in her interview. The first was ‘St Ethelburga’s Hallowtide Fair’ for Punch Drunk Enrichment in Barking and Dagenham. This was a mysterious and magical theatrical experience made in collaboration with and for local residents that was set in the grounds of Eastbury Manor House. The performance took over the whole house and the gardens and Rachael designed and led on the making of the costumes for twenty-five 16-18 year-olds.
The second project was ‘Stacked!, 2016′ where she designed the set and costumes for a large-scale community project at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. Stacked! involved 140 community actors and was inspired by both Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the events of Operation Stack. Stacked! told the story of a disparate group of people who are stranded in The Canterbury Tales pub, each with a tale to tell, stories which span the globe.
Strengths and skills
We also felt that Rachael’s approach would help us to achieve our aims for the project around getting the community involved. Her experience with past large-scale productions proves she has good organisational skills and will be a great ambassador for helping introduce people to the way that theatres and theatrical productions work. She told us “I want to treat community actors as individuals and like professionals” that means I will always try to find out about people’s preferences and what will help them get into character. “I will do drawings for everyone to show them the sort of thing I have in mind”. She will also hold fitting sessions to make sure actors are comfortable in their costumes. “I won’t just hand over a costume and expect people to like it”. Rachael has experience of running workshops to get people involved in making props and costume accessories. So look out for details of our workshops planned for September and October.
Rachael is really keen to begin developing ideas for our play that will make the most of the fabulous and historic venues that we have at our disposal and also help to bring to life the characters that our wonderful group of community actors will be playing.
Design next steps
Rachael will be meeting with Stephen and Suzi as soon as the first draft of the play is ready. Jo and Elaine will also get involved in helping Rachael to develop ideas for the costumes, set and props. Rachael will come along to the script development workshops to be held on the four Mondays in June so that she can meet all the actors. We will also set up a meeting so that everyone who has offered to help behind the scenes can meet Rachael and hear about her ideas and how they can help.