Over the course of a week I took two trips to London in aid of my professional practice. During the first trip I visited the Tate museum here are some photos of work I felt drawn too or was applicable to my work:
I really liked the interactive and communal aspect of this piece. People congregated around the fountain in awe but also as it was a lovely atmosphere.
I was particularly drawn to this work at it was performance based.
After the Tate we went to watch a environmentally conscious theatre production in the incredible hidden gem venue, The Vaults. (https://secretldn.com/waterloo-vaults-hidden-venue/) The show was called Omelette, “Mia and Mo have been to all the marches, turned off the heating and eaten the goldfish – but the climate’s still collapsing and they’re buckling under the pressure of saving the planet. Omelette is a new play by Anna Spearpoint (Theatre503), directed by Tash Hyman (JMK Award Finalist 2019) about climate anxiety, giving things up, and the pressure to do the right thing all the time.”
Its entire set and costume was designed and made with 100% up cycled materials by up and coming designer Seren Noel. Nothing was bought new for the production which is a huge accomplishment. This was achieved by its minimal and meaningful design. This commentary on sustainable practice is something my work is focused towards as well, so seeing a completely sustainable performance is extremely interesting to me. I actually know seren personally as she was my manager whilst doing decor at Nozstock last summer because of this I was able to organised a short Q+A with her after the show, to ask about how she got to where she is and some of her values.
Q+A with Seren Noel:
How did you get the job at the vaults? and generally how do you go about finding freelance work? – vaults producer found me, in my end of year exhibition balance 2020 in Cardiff. he was also RWCMD alumni. he saw i was a sustainable partitioner and got in contact with me to make this performance. Generally RWC has helped but the industry has been very word of mouth based be in contact with local theatres and people will pass your name on.
How was the transition between university and work? what are the biggest struggles and challenges you’ve faced and equally your greatest successes? – my greatest success and challenge was both omlette, having a professional show in waterloo London. but was testing to have the primary designer role, and be in charge souly with finding and sourcing the show completely sustainably.
How did you go about sourcing the materials sustainably? Are there specific people you contact to help supply you or is each material individually sourced? – each material. probs + costume from charity shops and local costume hiring departments, scavenged around form friends and family. and a lot came from previous theatres i worked at. Utilising my contacts in the industry.
How has designing sustainably changed your practice? Has it effected the style of your work or the way you consider projects? – yes it defiantly has. it effects my thought process when assessing the script. it makes me want to understand the feel of the show and express it generally through minimal stylistic choices. Not adding surplus things with no significance. and has made consider what each and every material may symbolise and so i chose carefully when designing.
After these questions she said she was so excited to hear I was inspired by her and applying for a MA at the RWCMD. She said she cant wait to have me back on her team for Nozstock this summer and We even spoke about how to potentially make a stage that comes alive with large puppets solidifying even more my decision to apply do a MA in puppetry at the Royal welsh next year.
The next week was the university trip to London. On this trip I visited the V+A Museum and saw a variety of different exhibits including
Filthy Lucre: Whistler’s Peacock Room Reimagined
However I went there primarily to see the Staging Places exhibition, where we had booked to be a part of one of the round table discussions about the exhibition with its curator Fiona Watt ( http://www.fionawatt.com/)
I was so excited about this exhibition and talk as it really embodies all the aspects I love about performance and celebrates them.
She spoke about the work and the designers presented, how she chose them and some key aspects of the exhibition.
“I was really interested in hearing designers voices as much as seeing objects […] hearing the story of how the work is made” she goes on to explain how within the industry these stories are shared but is very often distanced from wider public.
She talks about how inclusive she wanted the exhibition to be to represent designers from ver established careers as well as other independent designers fresh out of education. she was keen to show diversity of work and of who was making it to be an example of the broad range of ingenuity within the industry. “diversity in terms of sensory experience as well was important to us and we drew out from each persons work […] my real driver was the designers voice because in terms of the professional negotiations i really wanted to encourage designers to speak and tell us why they made the work that they they made.” Each designer contributed mini manifestos to encompass the meaning behind their work.
“in terms of design education we all have reasons why we make the work and we all have a value system that is our personal value system be that to do with sustainability or valuing a particular way of making work, a particular audience we are interested in, we all have to do a variety of things in order to make a career but just knowing where that driver is and how that might shape the decisions you make the paths that you make and then attract to you as collaborators is so important to include in the exhibition.”
I particularly loved this costume designer who used festival waste to make costumes just like my project:
Everything she writes about in the description encompassed my project and I was enthralled by her work so when I got home I researched it further . This further research can be found in her own post.
I also arranged a tour around the workshops backstage of the national theatre to get an insight into how professional theatre performances are run and made.
Polar bear puppet being demonstrated :