Verity Johnson is one of our talented third year BA Theatre Design students who will be exhibiting her work at our Undergraduate Summer Show this year.
We spoke to Verity about her experience of the Theatre Design course, her current practice and her plans for her Summer Show work.
Can you tell me what you are working on for the Summer Show?
I am working on a sort of physical theatre, spoken word piece that I have written myself. It started off as a script, and now it is a series of poems and it keeps changing in front of me! It will be presented as a model box with my costume drawings beside it and I’m also going to have a screen that is essentially going to act as my storyboard. It’s going to go through the play with drawings and bits of footage of actors and will show the model box moving. I’ve had some actors actually read the poems and I’ve recorded them, so that will be the audio over the top. This final project of my degree is exactly the kind of work I want to be making right now – it’s very exciting!
What have you enjoyed most about studying BA Theatre Design at Wimbledon?
The people! Everyone here is just amazing. All the technical support we have is fantastic, too! People like Marc and Julian, who are theatre and woodwork technicians, are absolutely wonderful. They have so many skills and so much life experience that they can draw from to teach us. They really make it so worthwhile.
The other students are great as well. We’ve really banded together in this last year, we’ve been helping each other up in the studios and it’s really lovely.
My favourite project I’ve worked on over the three years was the site-specific project we did in second year with Geraldine Pilgrim. It was tense, and our group had some drama, as groups often do, but it was so much fun. Geraldine is such an amazing woman and she taught us so much. Our site-specific location was Battersea Arts Centre, which is a fantastic space. I also loved the Design for Dance collaboration we did with Middlesex University dance students. I’ve loved everything! It’s so hard to choose my favourite thing.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of the course?
We had to do a Shakespeare design project last year and I found that quite hard. I’d say the most difficult thing was trying to stay motivated when you’re working on the same Shakespearean text for half the year. I love Shakespeare personally and I love to watch it, but working on the same text for so long is always going to be hard. Theatre design is quite a snappy industry and turnaround on project is always quite fast, so we’re not used to having a script for that long.
What are you hoping to do one you graduate?
I want to work freelance and try to work on more fringe, experimental theatre. But until I can build more of a name for myself, I will earn my money as a model maker – I’ve already got a couple of people interested.
I did some work experience with the designer Tim Hatley last summer, which I was able to find on my own. I was a model maker for him for a couple of months, and it was really great experience – he taught me so much! I learnt so many things that you just don’t get from sitting down and having a class. In model making especially, various techniques like the different fixatives you should use, which colour cap means what, what ‘flock’ is and all of that stuff. There are things you don’t really have to think about when you’re working on a university project, but in the real world are essential. That was really valuable to learn. I’ve also been working on my own designs as well, and have done some freelance projects while at university.
My dream production to work on would be Peter Pan. I did my dissertation on it and I’ve loved it for years.
Learn more about studying BA (Hons) Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Arts.
We hope you can join us at our Undergraduate and MFA Summer Show this year! Click here to find out more.