Thursday, 31 May 2012

Design for Performance

Whenever we watch a play, concert or performance, we rarely think of the elaborate designers' creative process of combining different elements in order to create its own narrative.

Lady Gaga's Monster Ball tour (2009-10), Set design & Photograph by Es Devlin

The last play I've seen - Wild Swans - had a mesmerising array of different imagery, from video projections to physical objects, smells and sounds which definitely played an important role to communicate the intricate lives of three generations of women.

Rushes - Fragments of a Lost Story, (c) Royal Opera House April 2008

Designers dwell behind the scenes and can be easily underestimated but what they do is incredibly significant when it comes to the audience's impact and experience. 

Agrippina, Openhaus Zurich, May 2009
Costumes by Marie-Jeanne Lecca

Transformation and Revelation: Gormley to Gaga celebrates the best of British performance design over the last four years, featuring set models, costumes, photographs, drawings, lighting designs and sound productions.

Sutra - a Sadler's Wells London Production, May 2008
(c) Hugo Glendinning

Designs include Sutra by Antony Gormley, War Horse by Rae Smith and Lady Gaga's Monster Ball Tour by Es Devlin. I was fortunate enough to be at Sadlers Wells when Sutra was presented.

It was an amazing dance work inspired by the skill, strenght and spirituality of Buddhist Shaolin monks by the celebrated Flemish/Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. He has collaborated with Turner Prize-winning artist Antony Gormley, who has created 21 wooden boxes repositioned to create an ever changing on-stage environment.

Billy Budd, Glyndebourne, May 2012
Set and costume designer Chirs Oram, (c) Alastair Muir

I can only recommend this fabulous display of contemporary performances which brings the designer from behind the scenes to the forefront. Es Devlin, Lady Gaga's Monster Ball tour set designer, is currently working on the closing ceremony of London 2012 Olympic Games (12 August). Something to look forward to!

Transformation and Revelation: From Gormley to Gaga
UK design for performance 2007-11
Curated by Kate Bailey and Peter Farley
V&A, until 30 September 2012

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