An Interview with Katie Sykes, Costume and Prop Designer on The Boy Who Cried Wolf!

A firm fixture in Bristol, Katie Sykes is a costume and prop designer as well as a set designer. Whether working closely with us, Travelling Light, The Tobacco Factory, Myrtle Theatre or her own theatre company, Shoofly Theatre (who’ll be here in October Half Term), she uses her medium to create magical worlds for actors to inhabit. She was previously costume designer for Treasure Island in 2011, and is a regular fixture in director Sally Cookson’s creative team. Very kindly she let us steal a few sketches from her sketchbook and answered our questions about the show.

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Photography by Mark Douet.

Tell us about your role in the show.
My role in the show is mainly to make the actors look as funny as possible and for the props to be as daft and surprising as possible.

Describe the show in three words.
Warm, eccentric and funny. 

Did you read Aesop’s Fables as a child? If so, which was your favourite fable?
I don’t remember reading them but my favourite story now is the Miller and his Son. The moral chimes with me because as a designer you often try to please everyone i.e. actors, directors, producers but can end up pleasing no one. You still need to maintain your designer instinct! 

Which animal in the fables are you most like?
I am the Hare. One moment I’m rushing around impatiently trying to get my children out of the house and then the next moment I’m flat out on the sofa. 

What is your favourite moment in the show?
My favourite moment involves Benji Bower (composer/musician) and some unfortunate confectionary. 

Describe an average day in rehearsal.
An average day for me begins with joining in the warm up, I then watch rehearsals (usually whilst sewing or glueing something) waiting to see what the actors come up with. I’ll suggest possible ideas for props and costume and then whizz off to find clothes or objects that might fulfill these ideas. We will try them out and if they make us laugh or surprise us then chances are they will be in the show.

What are you most looking forward to?
Camping in Cornwall with my family.

What has been like working with Sally Cookson?
We have worked together for twenty years so it’s like putting on a very comfy shoe – she keeps me on my toes though – no slacking!

The Boy Who Cried Wolf! runs until the 1 Sep on King Street. Find out more here.

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