Performing and dance has always figured in Yvie’s life.
As a theatre design student, she’s learnt the importance of work experience. Assisting established and innovative designers on live projects across the UK has helped her build contacts in the theatre world. We spoke to her during the second year of her degree.
Tell us about yourself.
I am from North Manchester, Bury. I have always loved performing from an early age but it was whilst doing GCSE drama that my teacher encouraged me to improve my grade by doing a costume design project. I turned out to love it. I stayed up all night and completed the whole brief within a week. My teacher was amazed and realised that because I was also studying art it suited me. From here, I geared my A-Level art towards a costume design portfolio. I’m now studying BA (Hons) Theatre Design.
How would you describe theatre design to others?
A lot of people ask me what theatre design is; is it designing a theatre building? Or set? Or props?
Theatre designers are responsible for everything on set; costume, set, props, lighting but collaborate with other artists to make the vision a success. Actually, it is more similar to architecture than I originally thought. Model-making and technical drawing is prevalent in theatre design and architecture. However, theatre design gives you scope to explore in more detail the interior image.
A tutor said to me, you are possibly the only person that talks to everyone that works on a production, from stage management to construction.
What’s the best thing you’ve done so far?
In my second year, having found my feet in London, I have thrown myself into getting work experience. I danced in the ‘Dance Audition’ scene for ‘You Me Bum Bum Train’ (which is a big budget site specific performance).
Site specific means you turn a space, whether it be a building, outdoors or public area into a performance where the audience walk through scenes created and are allowed to step into the ‘worlds’ created rather than just watch it unfold on stage.
The word used to describe this is called immersive. I learnt how many different staff roles there can be in a production such as managing money and fixing broken set and props!
This summer I also helped theatre designer Geraldine Pilgrim with research towards her site specific performance and installation of ‘Flight’. It was based on World War I pilots that never returned from their missions and the history of aviation – the story behind how planes have developed through science and technology.
My favourite project this year has been the site-specific unit. We were given the task to use a chosen text and bring the story to life within the rooms of Shoreditch Town Hall. I had to do lots of research into the history of the building. We chose to set it in World War II, so I visited museums and the British Library as part of my study of the characters. We also had the chance to exhibit our work in the gallery space which was really exciting.
In my second year, I went to ‘Home Truths’, which is run by Cardboard Citizens. It aims to raise awareness about the rising issue of homelessness due to the lack of social support, affordable and available houses built in the U.K, but focusing on London boroughs. It was an event for any type of theatre-makers to go to.
I was part of a group that got together after this day to create a theatre piece based on homelessness in London; we called ourselves the Screeve Collective. This year, we hope to run workshops with homelessness charities in order to get a better understanding of what individuals experience. If we get funding from Cardboard Citizens Organisation or the Arts Council we would also like to create a site specific piece called ‘No Fixed Abode.’
Yvie’s work: Screeve Collective
Find out more about the course Yvie is studying: