The Society of British Theatre Designers

Staging Places: We Are The Storytellers Now - open until March 29, 2020 at V&A London

Shizuka Hariu

A Time There Was

A Time There Was
  • Production: Jubilee Opera
  • Company: Jubilee Opera
  • Venue: Jubilee Hall
  • Year: 2013
  • Directed by: Frederic Wake-Walker
  • Composer : Benjamin Britten, Steuart Bedford
  • Lighting Design by: Cis O’Boyle
  • Costume Design by: Kitty Callister
  • Scenography by: Shizuka Hariu
  • Design © 2015 SHSH Architecture + Scenogrpahy
New Scenography works for the production with Jubilee Opera in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. The first is a newly-devised and fully-staged production, A Time There Was. Scenes from Britten’s operas and other works (including Midsummer Night’s Dream, Turn of the Screw, Albert Herring, Golden Vanity and Nocture) have been seamlessly linked by conductor Steuart Bedford and director Frederic Wake-Walker to form a dramatic thread that creates a reflection on childhood as seen through the eyes of the tenor, sung by Alan Oke (Peter Grimes from ‘Grimes on the Beach’). he scenography suggests the location of Aldeburgh in Suffolk, where Benjamin Britten worked and found inspiration for his music. The clouds cover the entire stage apart from a hole, which has been created in order to allow continuous sequences describing the variation of time and ambient by the lighting effects. In this way, the simple scenography can describe the different time and emotion of the main character, perhaps Benjamin Britten himself. The second element is the office of Britten, which is on the deck in front of the proscenium arch and close to the audience. It is to show that the story is looking into the past, therefore Britten’s office is separate from the abstract cloud scenery. Another element is a long deck from stage down to up and stage left to right. This deck ensures that all the children remain visible on the stage to spectators, it also creates a different perspective by providing a slight angle. It is also connected between Britten’s office and the main stage. There are many props to describe the scene from his childhood to adolescent, such as a Victorian bath-tub, stuffed animals, bubbles, mobile boat, a chair and cooking table- all in Victorian style. This scenography is in between abstract and concrete expressions, for the story needs to connect to memory of his childhood and present time to successfully celebrate Benjamin Britten’s centenary.