Notes from a presentation.
Sometimes I co-design shows with Set Designer Naomi Kuyck — Cohen
This idea of shared authorship of design is something we want to explore more with directors and theatre makers this year, not only because we creatively work well together, but because we think the hierarchy of theatre-making needs a bit of a shake up sometimes to find its voice in the process again. So after many late conversations and post-it notes stuck to the wall to decipher our process and brains, we gave a 2.5 minute presentation on our thoughts about co-design, to a room of directors and designers at The Young Vic.
And I’m Josh
I’m a Theatre Designer
And I’m a Lighting Designer
We think sometimes pairs work better together than apart, and sometimes we work as co-designers. We’re exploring the positives and practicalities of that process.
Collaborating is inherent in most things we all do in theatre. But to be a collaborator is a bit different, to us it means to work without the clear boundaries set by a traditional process. Through this we have benefitted more from our different ways of looking at theatre.
Our individual processes look at where and how we visually tell stories -
(Josh) But I have a greater focus on ‘How’ we are encountering something and a less of ‘Where’.
(Naomi) And I think more about ‘Where’ we are encountering something and less about ‘How’.
But, when working as co-designers the process allows these tendencies to be more communal and grow simultaneously. It also opens up questions we might not reach otherwise, and allows for more unified conversations to be shared with other creatives.
Greater equality between our creative roles has led to a stronger conviction behind where and how we encounter the story. It forces us out of the more traditional responsibilities of design, to find new ways of visually communicating together.
Theatre by its nature is always morphing and regenerating, as are audiences. As practitioners we have a duty to keep developing our ways of engaging, which is why we’re reframing our process, as a way to change how we consider the audience experience.
Reframing and breaking down boundaries also means that title based agendas are kept at bay. Here we created the audience’s visual arc with director Joe Hancock, to link and support 7 short scripts performed around a building.
This is a sheet of responses made with director Sarah Bedi during a creative meeting for dreamplay. Co-designing gave all of us the time and space to refocus our energies on interrogating the text together at every stage.
Having this particular robust relationship with the text, story, and performance means offering a really open and comprehensive dialogue with directors. We’ve seen it as creating a safe space for ideas.
We hope this safe space can encourage a creative team to rewire the way they think about risks, play, and collaboration.
We’re also aware that this way of sharing a process may not be for everyone and every type of work, but we’d love to chat with you if it’s something you’re curious about.
A lightning presentation shared with directors and designers of the Young Vic’s directors and designers network in January 2018.
Words: Joshua Gadsby and Naomi Kuyck-Cohen.