The Society of British Theatre Designers

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Staging Places: We Are The Storytellers Now - open until March 13, 2020 at V&A London

The View From Here

Rosie’s top donations so far:

We have been so overwhelmed by the amazing things that we have been donated so far, especially by the generosity of what people are willing to give. A couple of my highlights are below….


Metrocard donation

This person donated a New York metro card with the description “There are still some money left in this card – Go to NYC! Use it. Subway smells bad!!” I just thought this was great, I would love to take this and use it in New York!!

Random man's picture

Random man’s picture

This was another favourite of mine! This person donated a photograph of an unknown man in Paris and just kept for no reason. This reminded me of the film Amelie, collecting the photos she finds under photo booths.

Chuck’s top donation so far!:

One of my favourite inputs from day 2, right at the beginning of the process was a donation of hair from a lovely Mexican girl. While in the space she asked me for some scissors and the next thing i knew she had chopped a big piece of her hair off!!


Donation of Purple Hair

The First Week:

With the end of the first week of the exhibit being open, we wanted to reflect on how it has gone so far. Opening night was completely mental with us getting through far more than our allotted 50 landing card  for that evening. This just continued throughout the week and as of today we have got through over 1000 landing cards with even more visitors than this to the space. Once we had decided that it would work best for people to fill out the cards in the space we quickly found that the most exciting part of the experience of working in the space is the fascinating range of people we have been able to meet from all over the world. Following this post each member of the team will be posting some of their favourite people they have met so far.

Although border control initially appeared to be the least dynamic of the roles to perform within the space some playful creativity has really been adding to the experience for the visitor. Shout outs to Chuck and Nicki for some stellar performances, with Nicki challenging visitors to hop on one leg or tell a joke before they can pass through and Chuck confiscating snacks and drinks from people who pass through.

So far we have had a really positive response to the exhibit we have been overwhelmed by the generosity and thought some people have put into their donations. Highlights so far are the girl who cut off a snippet of her purple hair, a lady who donated pictures of her three Czech/English children and a man who blew air into the bag giving us ‘space to breathe’. Over the next few days the team will be posting images of their personal favourites and the stories that come with them.

We have been so overwhelmed by the number of people through the space that we are constantly reconfiguring the structure of the space to be able to hang all the bags that people have given us, the space is becoming a dense grotto.

We are having the most incredible and inspiring experience becoming friends with the other exhibitors in the venue, Chile, New Zealand, Monaco, Mexico and Korea just to name a few and hearing stories of their countries and universities is introducing us to new perspectives and widening all of our horizons.

Over the final days of the exhibit we will be keeping you all updated with pictures and weird and wonderful stories of our experiences at PQ2015!!!

Opening Night:

After  a hectic morning of finishing off a few last bits and discussing the performative elements of the piece we were l ready to go. For the opening we all went in costume carrying placards advertising the exhibit to raise some awareness. The opening was fantastic three trucks drove into the square two with musicians on and one with women in traditional dress who sang beautifully. From the opening ceremony in the old square we ran back to the space to be ready for our first set of visitors. It was so manic! Lots of people came through and the free beer was flowing. People were getting really excited about the space and we got very positive responses to the concept and the execution of it.



In Costume ready for the opening.

Set Up – Day 2:

By the end  of day one we had the floor done an  the majority of the structures up. After a successful discussion over dinner the previous night we started the second day of set up experimenting in the space with hanging structures. We decided starting from the corner and fanning out was going to be the best way to create some structural shape and allowing  it to grow over the course  of the festival, we have been discussing ways in which it might grow, dependant on the amount of bags we get from visitors to the exhibit we may need to think about creating some kind of canopy or just adding more and more lines across the space to hang them from.


Hanging System for the bags 


Setting up the Exhibit:

We arrived at 10 ready to go and after unpacking boxes of turf, screws, screens,  fake security cameras, pull out barriers and more. We divided up into different teams of turf layers, painters, construction team, script writers, errand runners. Once we were in the space it all made sense but also threw up so many more questions.

What is the most effective way to display the bags?
How will we perform in the space?
What kind if experience do we want our visitors to have?

Discussions continued at dinner after work finished and we were gradually finding solutions.

A few pictures from the first day….



Hello from Prague!:

After a hectic first week we have finally had the chance to to sit back and catch up with what we have been up to!

We arrived in Prague on Sunday the 14th, met at the airport  and headed into the city. We first met at the space  in the Bethlehem chapel, it is an amazing location and its was so exciting to see  the other exhibits starting to go up. We ate and went to the apartment, it going to be like the Big Brother house in there with all 12 of us together!

Central School of Speech and Drama Meeting:

18th April 2015

Today we met up as a group to further discuss how our space will look, to finalise specific visuals for the space and to think about how the space will run practically.

The day was full of discussion, brainstorming, sketching and experimenting with materials and objects.

Here is what we concluded during the day:

  • Splitting the space 1/3 to 2/3… 2 contrasting spaces and having the second part of the space hidden from view initially.
    Still to be decided whether the dividing wall is created from mirror, card, glass, wood? What is cost effective and practical?
  • 1st part of the space (1/3) will be based on UK Border Control barriers.
    It will be an interrogating space . Signs will be used (British humor?)
  • 2nd part of the space (2/3) will be open and ‘free’! Grass on the floor and open to roam. This space will contain ‘landing cards’ that contain individuals’ details, placed within a plastic zip-lock bag, imitating the liquid bags at the airport. Objects will be placed in the bags by the individuals:
    1. UK Students: All UK design students will be asked to pre-send in their bags. Containing an object that means something to them as a British performance design student.
    2. Public and visitors at PQ15: Will be handed a bag in the streets. They will come to the exhibit with the cards filled out, and any random object that means something to them about PQ15 within the bag.
      • These bags will represent identity and who we are as individual artists and as a country as a whole. Everyone can leave a part of themselves at the exhibit and many nationalities will be involved.
      • These bags will be arranged and positioned in interesting ways, sculptural! The arrangement will be changed throughout PQ15. Interaction.
  • Conveyor belt included in the second part of the space to imitate border control. Bags on conveyor belt?
  • Student Archetypes will be made. The British Student curatorial team will dress in these costumes and they will be performing in the space, along with the Border Control characters to interact with the public and the space. Realistic.


Today, we also started creating these Student Archetypes from plain white boiler suits to create unity. To easily identify us as The View From Here team!

Lastly, we started experimenting with the landing cards and bags as to how they can be hung, arranged and interacted with. How will this work practically? To be explored further.

Today was a productive day of teamwork discussion and our ideas are well underway to being realized! We will be collecting, sourcing and building parts for our exhibit from now until PQ15.

We are excited to see you in Prague in June!! The British Student Design team.

– Karina Smith

Student Curators:

Our student curators have truly explored what it is to collaborate with other designers to reach a consensus on what a national exhibition should be.

When we reconvened at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama for a day in February after our intense workshopping of ideas in Nottingham, we felt we were on the cusp of finalizing our concept.

At that point, as is their right on a student led project, our selected team chose to throw out almost all of the ideas they had come up with previously and start again.

With a group of 13 students then spread out across the UK working over Facebook, we have come unstuck from time to time.

However, the constraints of three initial political themes that were important to everyone in Nottingham have remained – diversity, immigration and cuts to the arts.

These are, of course, broad concerns gripping the nation right now ( well, the first two anyway!) but the decisions made about all three by whoever comes into power next will have a very direct impact on these students who will predominantly be entering their third final year of study when they return from Prague.

We are immensely proud of the combination of determination and humour their work on the exhibit encompasses.

For the majority of the team, it will be their first encounter with PQ.

If you are coming to Prague, please join in and contribute.

We will be in the Lapidarium at Bethlehem Chapel.

POLITICS : The View from Here:

The View From Here was launched online in October 2014 as the first collaborative project between the Association of Courses in Theatre Design (ACTD) and the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD). We invited course leaders to bring their students together to debate what SharedSpace: Music Weather Politics meant to them.

Every participating student group around the country was asked to nominate 2 student ambassadors to represent that discussion in the form of a 3 min film and upload it to our Facebook group. They shared distinctness, commonality, diversity and anything and everything else that was pre-occupying them in the UK now.

Next we asked them to propose what the UK PQ 2015 student exposition should look like.

15 extraordinary proposals from 30 students representing their colleagues from over 20 UK institutions formed the bedrock of a three-day residency held in January 2015 at Nottingham Trent University to coincide with Make / Believe, the SBTD’s national open exhibition.

We grouped existing concepts together and made new ones.

We explored Britishness, foreignness, shared space and politics in all their complexity.

We got stuck and we became unstuck.

We talked and wrote more than we drew and made but it was always the drawing, making and physically re-ordering that ultimately took us another step forward…

At the beginning of the residency each student knew only one other student in the room, by the end 30 animated young artists had engaged with a 1:1 replica of our space at PQ and come up with the bold final ideas that have become the springboard for this exposition.

A smaller group of representative students have received bursaries to become part of the UK PQ Student Curatorial Team. They are : Stella Chung, Flor Dias, Joseph Craig, Jonathan Gilmer, Nicki Harvey, Tellevero Lappalainen, Chuck Lowry, Thea Luckcock, Rachel Matthews, Barbara Moriera, Karina Smith, Alice Tulip and Rosie Whiting.

This project has been facilitated by professional curators, designers and academics, Peter Farley, Will Hargreaves, Andreas Skourtis and Fiona Watt.