Sleeping Beauty: An interview with Michael Vale

Designer and regular Sally Cookson collaborator Michael Vale talks to us about his design for SLEEPING BEAUTY. Working from the idea of creating a playground for the company to interact with, we caught up with him as he shares the model box with the company for the first time…

Sleeping Beauty Model Box - Design by Michael Vale, photo by Duncan Smith

Sleeping Beauty Model Box – design by Michael Vale

Can you tell us a little bit about the design for Sleeping Beauty?

The design for Sleeping Beauty is basically a simple wooden shape or structure which works as a kind of playground for the company to devise the scenes on in the rehearsal room. This is often a good way to approach the design for devised work since before rehearsals start you probably only have a loose structure for the story and not a series of written, finished scenes so you provide a canvas which both the designer and the company can work on.

You’ve collaborated with Sally Cookson before… has this shaped your approach?

This has naturally shaped my approach since when you have worked more than once with the same director you get a feel for how they tell stories on stage. This also means that you can develop a ‘short hand’ with the director when it comes to understanding how a scene works aesthetically and in context.

Describe your average day in the Sleeping Beauty rehearsal room…

It’s a lot of observing, looking at how the company are working together and developing the style of the show and judging the right time to intervene in their process in order to develop the design and the story further.

We’ve been very lucky to have worked with you before! Can you tell us a little about your previous Bristol Old Vic experiences?

I have always had a good experience at Bristol Old Vic since the stage and auditorium itself are so present and beautiful that it provides the beginning of the design for you.

What can people expect when they come to watch Sleeping Beauty?

They can expect to see a classic story, well told, full of wit, humour and surprises but weaved in and out of a lesser known fairy tale, The Leaves That Hung But Never Grew by Daniel Morden.

Sleeping Beauty plays in Bristol Old Vic Theatre from 27 Nov 2015 – 17 Jan 2016. Find out more and book tickets here.

Read the latest from the rehearsal room in Ewan Black’s rehearsal diaries – published every week!

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