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

Collaborators 2007:

Collaborators: UK Design for Performance 2003-2007 was the 2007 UK National Exhibition. It opened in Nottingham in 2007, toured the UK and finally closed at the V&A museum in London in 2008. Select entries from the exhibition were chosen to represent the UK at the Prague Quadrennial – International competitive exhibition of scenography and theatre architecture.

A full colour catalogue was published featuring the work of designers taking part in collaborators – To buy the Collaborators catalogue visit our publications page.

A range of workshops for schools, colleges and theatre students and professional accompanied the exhibition.

Collaborators: UK Design for Performance 2003-2007

Exhibition press release:

Collaborators: UK Design for Performance 2003-2007 is the latest exhibition by the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD). This impressive collection of work by more than 100 designers was selected from the vast national exhibition of the same name seen in Nottingham in January this year. The core of the exhibition – 32 designs by 28 designers, theatre architects and consultants was selected by renowned designers Ralph Koltai CBE, and Johann Engels to represent the UK in Prague. Ralph Koltai’s own work is included in the exhibition with designs for The Romans in Britain at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield as well as a maquette and full size realised sculpture which in Prague formed the entrance to the UK national exhibit.

This exhibition illustrates why British theatre designers have such a worldwide reputation for their innovative and resonant images. Having used ‘time’, ‘space’ and ‘process’ as themes for previous exhibitions, the SBTD have turned their attention to collaboration as a vital constituent of design for performance. As well as showing how designers communicate their ideas to audiences, the theme celebrates their partnerships with directors, visual artists such as lighting and projection designers, digital artists, craftspeople, industrial designers and architects.

From site-specific to international ballet and opera

Designs range from inventive site-specific performances in Whitby to grand international ballet and opera in Stuttgart and Verona; from the RSC’s Complete Shakespeare season and Bobby Baker’s dancing peas at the Barbican to Forkbeard Fantasy; from cutting-edge companies Quarantine and Cardboard Citizens, two Ring Cycles for English National Opera and the Royal Opera House, to small-scale touring productions in schools. The team-work involved in creating new or redeveloped performance spaces is also demonstrated in displays by theatre architects and consultants, often working closely with designers such as Neil Murray, with Julian Middleton of RHWL’s Arts Team at Northern Stage in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Tom Piper with award winning company Charcoalblue at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

To emphasise the inspiring contributions of lighting and projection designers to contemporary performance the SBTD is delighted to include an interactive collective display by the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD) as well as work by individual lighting designers throughout the exhibition. Similarly a presentation of work by UK Sound Designers foregrounds this increasingly acknowledged specialism.

An innovative feature of the Collaborators exhibition will be a temporary display space that will showcase a succession of significant contemporary designers as well as installations and master classes involving over 20 UK design training courses. Interactive displays incorporating interviews with exhibiting designers will further deepen insights into this fascinating artform.

Kate Burnett, Hon. Secretary to the SBTD and Collaborators Project Director said:

“I am thrilled to be invited to bring such a wonderful range of visual treats to the V&A. We have some of the very best and most innovative UK design for performance in this exhibition, which will stimulate visitors’ imaginings of plays or stories they know, as well as introducing strange, delicate and intriguing ideas in stage models, drawings and photos. This is a rare and fabulous resource for students, teachers, children and anyone interested in the art, craft and design of performance”.


The Collaborators exhibition is accompanied by a full colour catalogue, a unique resource for students, teachers and anyone interested in contemporary performance. It has over 200 pages of design drawings and photos and five specially commissioned essays by notable designers, including international opera designer Paul Brown, Fred Mellor of Carboard Citizens and Simon Banham designer for innovative company – Quarantine.

To buy the Collaborators catalogue visit our publications page.