Stolen Moments: 5 minutes with Production Designer, Richard Evans

Posted on 23 April 2014

Kidnapped is making its way to the Belgrade in May. So we stole creative team member Richard Evans, to find out more about what a Production designer actually does.

What are your responsibilities on Kidnapped?
As the Designer, I am responsible for the overall look of everything on stage – from the huge pieces of set, to a button on someone’s costume. I am also responsible for overseeing the construction and realisation of all the sets, props and costumes.

What is the first thing you do when you design a set?
The first thing I have to do is read the script and become really familiar with the story. I then begin sketching out initial ideas which I take to the Director. I then work more closely with the Director and any design team I have onboard, to further-develop the design into a 3D model, which becomes what you see on stage.

How did you design the set so that it would fit into such a wide number of theatre sizes?
It is quite a task sometimes to make it work in all the venues. For Kidnapped, we have doubles of some set elements, so there are ‘big’ and ‘small’ versions, while other set pieces have removable panels to make them smaller for the tight venues.

Do you make the set yourself?
On this occasion I am building the set with a brilliant carpenter Alan and my two assistants Rachel and Cara. We are building it between the four of us. Sometimes build a set alone, sometimes in a team, like this and on other occasions I may buy/hire certain set-pieces, however this usually only applies to props.

Was it difficult to design the puppets that feature in the show?
It was actually great fun to design the puppets because Anna (the Director) and I got the chance to be very inventive with them. We also had some workshops to develop the script before rehearsals began and this was a great opportunity to play with puppets and discover what works and what doesn’t.

What is your favourite part of your job?
I probably have two favourite parts. One is the very first read-through of the script, when I have no boundaries for the production yet so I could, in theory, design anything and I can let my imagination run wild. The second is the first day of the technical ‘get-in’ to a theatre. This is a very long day when the set is moved into the theatre space and the lighting, sound and all things technical are put in place. It is the first time that I see the set and costumes on stage. It is very exciting to see months of hard work finally come together!

How can students interested in design build a career in the industry?
A great place to start is volunteering on local amateur productions – at youth theatres or local pantomimes. This will give you a really great taste of the theatre and whether it is for you! I spent a lot of my extra-curricular time doing this. Then I went on to study 3D design at college, before completing a degree in Theatre Design and Technical Theatre. The more work experience you can get in a theatre setting – the better!

Kidnapped will be seizing the B2 stage from Tues 27 – Sat 31 May.