As we enter the final hours before the show’s debut, Assistant Designer Jenny Davies provides a final update on Under A Cardboard Sea, in our Theatre until 6 Aug.
Hi there! My name is Jenny and I am Assistant Designer on Under A Cardboard Sea. My first involvement with the young company was designing the Made In Bristol show Wild Men by Hotel Echo. I saw the great work they were making and how much they were enjoying themselves and thought – “I want to do that!”
I was lucky enough to get onto the Made in Bristol programme a few months later, and what a fantastic time it has been! Since then, I’ve performed, designed, become a young company session leader and, alongside Hal (Assistant Music Director) and Dale (Assistant Stage Manager), graduated from the Made in Bristol programme where we founded Propolis Theatre.
As Assistant Designer on Under A Cardboard Sea I help Max Johns, the Designer, to create the world where the play is set. This means lots of prop making, painting, costume fittings and being on call for things that need fixing or gluing back together. I first met Max when I was performing in the last Young Company show he designed – The Light Burns Blue.
Working with Max has been really exciting. He’s a fantastic designer and it’s such a privilege to work alongside him and learn as we work. Before this process, most of the things I’d learnt about design had been whilst designing for my own shows or small companies. If I didn’t know how to do something, I’d have to find a way to make it happen and learn as I went – which can be pretty nerve wracking!
I’ve never had the opportunity to work alongside a designer like Max so I was extremely grateful when the Outreach department invited me on-board. Max is a Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduate and since graduating has been very successful, designing for companies all over the UK, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to learn from him. The experience has been extremely valuable because Max has been able to show me how things work when designing a large scale show, and show me some design tricks and shortcuts along the way! I’ve designed for amazing smaller venues such The Wardrobe Theatre and the Bristol Old Vic Studio but the Theatre Royal is a lot bigger, which means you have the opportunity to be more ambitious in what you create. The Theatre Royal stage is an incredible stage to design for – there are so many options!
We’re in production week now, so the set is in, the costumes are ready and its incredible seeing the final product after months of determination and hard work. The fantastic thing about Young Company productions like this is that it introduces young people to the workings of a professional theatre production and gives them a chance to work alongside experienced industry professionals. For a lot of aspiring young theatre makers, it creates a much needed bridge into that world. Like myself, many of the other crew members on this production are Young Company or Made in Bristol alumni. I am overwhelmingly grateful to the Outreach department for the ongoing opportunities and support that they continue to give myself and many others. I’m sure that many of the talented young people involved in this show will go on to take part in many more and I look forward to seeing them on the Theatre Royal stage once again in the not-too-distant future!
Photography by Paul Blakemore and Jack Offord.