SET DESIGNER / PUPPET BUILDER
BLACK BOX THEATRE, UNIVERSITY OF YORK (AUTUMN 2015)
DIRECTED BY SAFFIA SAGE
How long would you journey? How hard would you fight? How far would you go to reunite a child with her father?
Banishment. Abandonment. An act of selflessness. When Beatriz takes it upon herself to lead a child back to her father, an unimaginable journey begins, unhindered by space or time. Through war zones and impossible scenarios, Beatriz struggles to reach an understanding of what is right, what is human, and how we keep sight of these amidst the atrocities of war.
The Wheel is my longest and most ambitious project to date. Over the course of 9 weeks, I and my co-designer, Will, were tasked with coming up with and building a set for this play that 1) Could be got in and out quickly and easily, 2) Cost under £350, 3) Created a space with interesting topography, whilst leaving plenty of room for movement, and 4) could represent a number of locations, time periods and atmospheres.
The set we came up with consisted of giant, suspended dust sheets that could be coloured by the lighting designer to evoke different moods and locations, whilst also being able to be dropped simultaneously and re-set at the emotional peak of the play.
We were also asked to design and build the puppets that were to be the children in the play. This required a long collaboration with the puppeteers, constantly refining prototypes as they went through rehearsal working out what these puppets needed to be able to do, and adjusting them to the physical needs of each puppeteer. The final puppet design that we arrived at was able to be controlled by a single puppeteer, walk with feet on the ground, jump, move its head and arms independently, and has joints that are carefully engineered to ensure human-like movement (no knees bending backwards!). We're very proud of them.
"The children Beatriz encounters are puppets, and they are this production’s most powerful assets. [...] They cleanly and concisely create living, breathing characters out of these puppets, and they’re an absolute joy to watch."
A Younger Theatre