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SBTD Members News Letter: November

News, 17 November 2020

SBTD Members News Letter: November


News & information for members of the Society of British Theatre Designers

Chair’s Message /  Vectorworks offer / AmazonSmile / Mentoring Announcement / Staging Places online events / About Time exhibition  / Blog Roundup / Opportunities / Further Reading: Splinter Scenery
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On Wednesday 11th November we were delighted to simultaneously launch our Regional Heart: East Midlands online events programme in compliment to our Staging Places residency at NCCD and with that our Access and Inclusive Aesthetics Working Group with fascinating insights into the research and development of new integrated ways of working from Paul Tennent from the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab and Amanda Wilde from Red Earth Theatre sharing outcomes of their collaborations, emphasising just how vital the role of designers is ( in this case designer and Red Earth Associate Artist, Laura McEwen) in turning a creative solution into a beautifully realised production. The process of developing immersive digital and analogue captioning is still in development but the intention is to continue seeking collaborators that will develop this process still further to become readily available and time and budget efficient. They were joined by Daryl Beeton from The Spark Arts for Children and the discussion that ensued around the importance of how a space is both acknowledged and transformed on small scale touring circuits and the tangible impact this has on young audiences reminds us of the agency we have to shape those very first experiences of theatre that take place beyond theatre buildings. If you are interested in becoming involved in further shaping this Working Group, please drop us a line

On the same afternoon, with all of the appropriate measures in place, I was able to attend a session at the MA Applied Theatre Symposium held at Derby Theatre in partnership with Derby University. Like many other theatres across the country, Derby Theatre is going through challenging processes at the moment. It has modelled itself as a Learning Theatre in this integrated partnership with the University and the keynote from director Nathan Powell, recently an Associate with 20 Stories High, powerfully emphasised the need for the ‘new normal’ to be about making work with young people and communities as the visible, vocal and vital life force the centre stage of Let’s Create programming in theatre buildings.

Theatre’s role as a civic space that holds and cherishes stories relevant to its town, city and region seems an unquestionable remit for the future but there is work to do in making these spaces function on a par with museums, galleries and public spaces to ensure that they are accessible and inclusive for the storytellers and theatre makers of the future as well as the diversity of audiences to whom these spaces should belong.

We are now in the process of launching our Student Ambassador programme targeted at 2nd year BA (Hons) students on performance design courses throughout the UK. It is vital to us, particularly during these unsettling times that we share the resources of SBTD more widely with those starting out on this career path as you seek out industry knowledge and that you feel that you are already a vital and important part of the Society.

As Covid 19 continues to move the parameters of how we can educate and learn, I hope you will join us for our exciting programme of Regional Heart: East Midlands events.

Do not hesitate to get in touch if you need our help in trying to navigate these precarious times,

All my very best,


On behalf of the SBTD team

Have you got news to share or something you’d like to see in the newsletter? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us at:

Vectorworks Offer

We had a fantastic response to the Vectorworks online training programme we recently offered, and the course is now underway with training sessions run by industry specialists alongside informal Q&A / surgery sessions with designers.

Even if you weren’t able to take up the training offer, SBTD members can still take advantage of a special 90 day free trial of Vectorworks. Request your trial here:

Keep an eye out for more CAD resources coming soon from SBTD.

Theatre Artists Fund

The Theatre Artists Fund is currently open until midday on Friday 20th November for the latest round of grant applications.

The fund was set up in July by Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, spearheaded by Sam Mendes to provide emergency support for theatre workers and freelancers across the UK. It is for theatre professionals who are in need of urgent and critical financial support due to the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the theatre sector.

Find details on how to apply here:

Support SBTD through the AmazonSmile Program

If you (and friends and family) use Amazon, please consider this, it’s a simple way for SBTD to increase its funding to allow us to more for you.What is AmazonSmile?
AmazonSmile is a program that donates 0.5% of your eligible purchases on Amazon to a charity of your choice, (SBTD is a registered Charity!) and it costs you nothing.

Every item available for purchase on Amazon is also available on AmazonSmile at the same price. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages.

How does AmazonSmile work?
When you first visit, you are prompted to select a charitable organisation, just search ‘Society of British Theatre Designers’.

Amazon will give 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT and other shipping fees) of eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organisations selected by our customers.


SBTD’s Mentoring Working Group has announced the designers who will take part in its inaugural mentoring scheme, led by Christianna Mason and aimed at Costume and Set Designers at any career stage, to enable their artistic and career development.

This pilot intergenerational scheme matches 52 designers in 37 pairings including mentorship from International and Tony award-winning Costume and Set Designers. It aims to illuminate the support needed for designers at all levels of the sector and to provide professional development for young and emerging practitioners.

The set and costume designers awarded menteeships in the inaugural scheme are listed below. Read the press release about the mentoring scheme with a full list of the mentors here.


Alisa Kalyanova
Ana Ines Jabares Pita
Bek Palmer
Benjamin Glover
Bettina John
Blue Bradfield
Christianna Mason
Christopher McCourt
Davy String
Debbie Duru
Electra Pappa
Ellen Rey De Castro
Emily Bestow
Gwendoline Chen
Ica Niemz
Ingrid Hu
Jessie McKenzie
Kathryn Weaving
Katy Hoste

Libby Todd
Louie Whitemore
May Davies
Mayra Steriou
Melody Ramsay
Natalia Alvarez
Nicola Hewitt-George
Petros Kourtellaris
PJ McEvoy
Richard Evans
Rosie Whiting
Ruth Badlia
Sasha Mani
Sophia Pardon
Sophie Donaldson
Tim Meacock
Verity Johnson
Zoe Squire
Image: Dystopian Dream, Sadlers’ Wells, London and international tour, Set Designer: Shizuka Hairu, Photo: Wangramirez

Staging Places

To accompany our Staging Places: UK Design for Performance exhibition residency at The National Centre for Craft and Design we are running a series of online events.

Hosted by our SBTD Working Groups, these events are designed to shine a light on the breadth and diversity of innovative performance design practices emerging from the East Midlands region. We are delighted to be collaborating with Makers of Imaginary Worlds, the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Lincoln on these sessions.
We are still hopeful that the exhibition will get the opportunity to re-open before our due departure date.

These events are open to everyone – designers or otherwise. All welcome!

Wednesday 18th November: 16.30 – 18.30
New Collaborations 

Hosted by Roma Patel and Fiona Watt

The development of this Working Group follows on from our partnership with Footprint Xchange to generate cross-sector dialogue around the Value of Design.

If you are a director, producer, digital artist, technician, maker, performer or you make work across a range of sectors – film, TV, retail, museums, heritage, regeneration etc. and you are curious to build new dialogues and collaborations through meeting, making and doing with designers this is the group we would love you to help us shape…

We are delighted to welcome the Mixed Reality Lab from the University of Nottingham to help us launch this working group.The Mixed Reality Lab (MRL) has co-produced a number of renowned and provocative prototypical artefacts, interactive exhibits, and engaging artistic experiences. In doing this, they have worked with a range of exceptional local, national, and international artists throughout the last twenty years.

Performing Mixed Reality

You can book your ticket for the Zoom event here.

Thursday 19th November: 16.30 – 18.30
How can we embed sustainability within our professional practices?

This event will be hosted SBTD’s Sustainable Design Group, a working group formed to look at how theatre designers can make their practices more ecologically conscious and to make sure designers have a voice in the growing movement to make theatre greener.

The session includes a talk from Amy Nicholson, designer and co-founder of HandMade Theatre, who are based in the East Midlands followed by a short workshop and an update on the group’s activities to date.

You can book your ticket for the Zoom event here.

Wednesday 2nd December: 11.00 – 13.00, 14.00 – 16.00, 16.30 – 18.30
Flex, Flux, Fly : What will future graduate skillsets look like?
Education Working Group: Hosted by Nadia Malik

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
– Nelson Mandela, 1990.

This open forum will touch on some of the pressing issues in Performance Design Education today. No speakers, just provocations, guided discussions and ‘what ifs’.

Performance design practitioners / educators / students are welcome to any and all timeslots through the day.

Performance practice is morphing into a new realm where creative boundaries are porous: practitioners will be able to harness the power of physical proximity and the reach of remote practice in symbiosis. Now is the moment to be to be curious about and playful with the full range of tools and opportunities available to us, to learn to speak the language of other disciplines and to take risks. As we move forward, graduates with expanded perspectives will pioneer fresh forms of storytelling. Through the continuous exchange of industry and education, young practitioners will invent new practices for a future industry that embraces and celebrates the diversity of performance design and making into the future.

You can book your ticket for the Zoom event here.

About Time: Fashion and Duration

The Met Fifth Avenue The Costume Institute trace 150 years of fashion in this exhibition designed by Es Devlin.

“Employing Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée (duration), it explores how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present, and future.”

Find out more, book a virtual group tour or watch a video introduction to the exhibition here.

If you’ve been enjoying our blogs, how about creating one for us to publish?

It can be text, images, video, audio or a combination of any of these. Maybe there is something you are passionate about or exciting work you are creating that you’d like to share with the membership?

Do get in touch

29 October 2020
CAD Chat?th us

14 October 2020
Playing a Part

The London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)
AHRC Funded Studentship Scheme 2021

Application deadline: 22nd November 2020The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, invites Expressions of Interest from students interested in applying to the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) AHRC-funded PhD Studentship scheme (commencing in October 2021).
 The scheme is suitable for candidates wishing to undertake doctoral (PhD) study in the field of drama, theatre, and performance. Details here.

Senior Lecturer in Costume For Performance
London College of Fashion
Application deadline: 29th November 2020
LCF seeks a Senior Lecturer with experience in costume design to play a crucial role in the delivery of its Costume for Performance course. Details here.

Splinter Scenery

Many designers will have worked with Splinter Scenery, or will at least know of the workshop based outside Manchester.

This detailed article from Manchester’s The Mill gives a behind-the-scenes look into Splinter, it’s owner Alec Graham and the challenges facing the company during this difficult year of Covid.

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