You may not know this, but every four years about half the UK’s total community of theatre designers participate in an exhibition showcasing the best of their work.
For theatre design’s rare moment in the limelight this year, more than 200 designers behind British theatre’s biggest West End and innovative fringe shows are showing us how they transform their ideas into reality.
The grand sweep of featured work takes in stage design luminary Richard Hudson’s Royal Ballet Rushes project, Paul Brown’s colourful opera designs and Bob Crowley’s subtle, minimalist set for the 2007 production of The Year of Magical Thinking.
Demonstrating the designer’s occasional role in the creation of celebrity is Es Devlin, who will show her vast video backdrops for Lady Gaga’s 2010 Monster Ball tour.
Sculptor Antony Gormley makes his entrance to the world of theatre design as he shows his work for the dance piece Sutra, which played at London’s Sadler’s Wells in 2008.
’Theatre design is getting increasingly diverse and exciting, but it is such an under-publicised art,’ says the exhibition’s curator Peter Farley. ’My aim as curator is to reveal it to the general public.’ He goes on to observe regretfully that ’so often the work is credited to the director’.
Theatre design may be diversifying rapidly, but as fringe theatre and interactive and performance art drift ever closer together, one trend is towards site-specific work. Reflecting this movement, the show’s organisers are looking to tour it around art galleries rather than museums.