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A Long Eaton theatre designer who got curiouser and curiouser by building shops in shoeboxes as a child has showcased her Alice In Wonderland stage creation at the Society of British Theatre Designers' ‘Make: Believe UK Design for Performance 2011 – 2015’ Exhibition at Nottingham Trent University.
Rebecca Bradbury, resident Theatre Designer and Stage Manager here at Trent College, has been selected as one of more than 140 designers of all ages and experience from across the UK as Make: Believe celebrates the ideas behind performance including set design models, puppets, costumes plus lighting and sound design.
Rebecca’s ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ set provided the backdrop to the Trent College Lower School’s production performed in the school’s May Hall in June 2014.
The former Nottingham Trent graduate saw her work stand alongside award-winning productions from the West End, to music festivals, large-scale events such as the Olympics, Paralympics, community opera, found space and promenade performance as well as digital, heritage and media landscapes.
“The name of the exhibition is Make: Believe and Alice in Wonderland is perfect. It's all about a magical place, the ultimate place of make believe,” explains Manchester-born Rebecca, who comes from a family of theatre lovers.
“On a school trip to the RSC at Stratford upon Avon I was mesmerized by the set. It was simple but the entire set and floor was covered in Blue Willow China pattern. It was then I wanted to help design and paint sets.
“For every production I make a scale model of the set, it helps to see what will and won’t work, iron out any problems but ultimately helps the director and actors see what they will be working with. When I was younger I loved making shops out of shoeboxes for my toys and, sometimes, making model boxes feels exactly the same.”
In her Trent College role Rebecca designs the extracurricular productions, typically about three a year. She also designs and builds sets for any academic and exam productions, sources and makes costumes and props and sometimes does lighting.
She then stage manages the shows with a crew made up entirely of students, doing jobs from front of house to operating sound/lighting and wardrobe. GCSE and A-Level Drama students can opt to study design over acting and Rebecca also acts as mentor to them, a role she finds especially fulfilling.
“If someone has a real passion and wants to give an element of design a go they can even take the lead on a production and we will work together. Former students have also come back to assist in the designing of shows,” she continues.
“On show nights, although I’m the stage manager, I actually do very little, it’s all student run. This is really important to me as it’s a way students can be involved in theatre even if they don’t feel confident enough to be on stage and act.”
Rebecca’s next Trent College project is part of the National Theatres Connection project, a new piece by Ayub Khan-Din, writer of East is East, called The Edelweiss Pirates.
Selected works from ‘Make: Believe UK Design for Performance 2011 – 2015’ will be shown at the Prague Quadrennial in Prague from 17 – 28 June 2015, at the V&A Museum in London for nine months from early July 2015 and at a further handful of galleries throughout the UK from March 2016. The exhibition opens in the Newton Atrium exhibition spaces at Nottingham Trent University from 14 – 31 January.