You only have till the middle of March to catch Staging Places at the V&A. Curated by Fiona Watt and designed by Andreas Skourtis, it’s a great exhibition that not only reflects design for performance by practitioners active in the UK over the last four years, but also delves into and attempts to demystify the design process. In the same open and exploratory spirit, the exhibition design incorporates a round table, at which we’re hosting events and discussions. Follow The Society of British Theatre Designers on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to keep up-to-date. Or better still, join!
I wanted to say a few words about my role in all this, as it’s something I’m very proud of.
The SBTD has for many years followed its curation of the British entry for the Prague Quadrennial with an extended version of the exhibit at the V&A, along with some other iterations around the country. In fact, last time round, I curated a selection of designs for dance for a smaller exhibition in Harlow Essex. These were chosen from the many designs by SBTD members shown in a pre-PQ national exhibition at Nottingham Trent, .
Traditionally, these pre-PQ exhibitions have shown all the submitted designs, and the PQ/V&A selections have been made from them. Instead of a physical pre-PQ exhibition this year, we have a online gallery, created by David Shearing. It’s called Staging Places and it’s pretty impressive; do have a look.
So what right do I have to be proud? Firstly, I collated all the original entries, dealing with a load of queries and technical issues, and getting all 140-something submissions, each comprising up to three separate productions, ready for the selection panel. It turned out to be quite a huge task. I was retrospectively described as the “digital co-ordinator”; not something I ever expected to see on my CV!
I kept well away from the selection process itself, however, as I had submitted work. I wasn’t selected for PQ (which featured 12 designers), but my designs for Deafinitely Theatre’s production of 4.48 Psychosis, for which I did set, costume and video, were chosen to be among the 30 selected for the V&A. My bit of the exhibition comprises a model box, one of my sketches and a video of me talking about my design process
Part of the plan for both PQ and the V&A was to use a digital gallery to show something by of all the designers who had submitted work, alongside the focus on the selected designers. For PQ this used a four-screen display running a loop of almost 40 minutes, with images of one project by each designer. In the V&A this was adapted to work as a single projection, which you see as you enter the exhibition. Overall AV design was by Eva Auster, but these two video loops were handed over to me to compile.
So that’s what I did, and I’m very happy to have been involved! If you haven’t seen it yet, you have till 29th March.