World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day Fri 8 Oct Join us for a walk or tai-chi session in South Hill Park's beautiful grounds, Bracknell. Tai Chi: 11am-12noon Walk: 12.30-13.15pm Join us for an optional tea or coffee, cake and a chat to find out more about local mental health...

Auditions for the Studio Theatre Company’s next production Road

Come audition for the Studio Theatre Company's next production Road, by Jim Cartwright on Mon 27 Sept 7.30pm, and Fri 1 Oct 7.30pm. They will be group auditions, nothing to prepare. The company are looking for 7 actors most of whom will multi role. The performance...

Shrek 2022 Auditions

We are excited to share that our 2022 Easter Production will be Shrek The Musical - coming to the Wilde Theatre in April 2022! If you would like to be part of the greatest fairy tale never told, that's guaranteed family fun, then book your audition here. Auditions...

RARE Productions Hairspray Auditions

Visiting company RARE Productions will hold open auditions for their production of Hairspray at South Hill Park from Thu 3 - Sat 5 Feb 2022. Auditions will take place at South Hill Park on Tue 5 & Sat 9 Oct and are open for anyone aged 8-21yrs. Audition event...

Excellent results for South Hill Park’s LAMDA students

Eleven learners took their LAMDA exams at South Hill Park this summer under the tuition of Mark Hooper (Director of Learning, Participation and Community Engagement). The learners (10 Grade 8 & 1 Grade 1) had their exams cancelled at the start of the pandemic and...

Bracknell resident completes 500km run for South Hill Park Trust appeal

On 12 June 2020 Bracknell Forest resident David Baker pledged to run 500km in aid of South Hill Park Trust’s major public fundraising campaign following the potentially devastating impact of Covid-19. On Saturday 12 June 2021 David will complete this mammoth feet at...

An acting debut in Rope 2021

Gordon Vince, who will make his acting debut in the Studio Theatre Company’s 50th show celebration performance of Rope from Wed 23 – Sun 26 June, has shared with us what made him want to audition, what audiences can look forward to, and some behind the scenes...

Live events return to the Wilde

‘The social distancing at this was amazing; lines and rows of seats physically removed to keep all groups apart with a fantastic one-way system and oodles of sanitiser everywhere. It was lovely to support a local production and the cast were insanely good.’ – Louise,...

Calling all 8-18yr olds to audition for this year’s Pantomime, Cinderella (2021)

Panto Auditions – Junior Ensemble Want to be in panto? Oh yes, you do! Audition for South HiIl Park’s in-house pantomime production this Christmas Cinderella (Fri 26 Nov 2021 – Mon 3 Jan 2022). We are looking for 30 young performers who can dance, sing and act to form...

South Hill Park receives second lifeline grant from Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

South Hill Park Arts Centre and Wilde Theatre in Bracknell is delighted to have received a grant of £112, 814 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen. We are among more than 2,700 recipients to benefit from...



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Interview with SESSIONS Set and Costume Designer

October 5, 2021

Ahead of Paines Plough’s latest touring show SESSIONS by Ifeyinwa Frederick coming to South Hill Park on Wed 27 Oct, the company took a few moments to speak with the show’s designer, Anna Reid, to find out about her work, what it takes to create the look of a Paines Plough touring show, how good set and costume design can compliment a story and what challenges she faces in creating a set that has to tour all over the UK. Take a read of this fascinating and unique insight into theatre design.

Please tell us who you are and what your work on SESSIONS involves.

Hello, I’m Anna and I’m the set and costume designer for SESSIONS. I collaborate with Philip the director and Simi the lighting designer to create the visual and spatial world of the show.

How does good design for a theatre show like SESSIONS compliment and add to the story on stage?

A good script is one you can do in an empty room with a single chair. These are the kind of scripts I like to work with: where the design helps to support a brilliant and engaging story, rather than overwhelming it or drowning it out. But when you’re designing for one-person shows, especially a show which tours to a lot of different spaces many of which are not theatre spaces, you need to support the performer in what they’re doing. You need to help them carry the story from start to finish, as it’s a big task. I can help to visually communicate the emotional story of the show, as well as ground us in a physical space which requires the audience to invest their imagination in helping create it.

How closely have you had to work with the rest of the SESSIONS creative to team, for example director Philip Morris and writer Ifeyinwa Frederick to bring their vision of the play into your design ideas?

Very closely. From the get go Philip and Simi (the lighting designer) and I have been talking to each other, swapping images, talking through the kind of person Tunde is and the kind of space he lives in, how best to communicate the time and place shifts that take place throughout the show, how best to guide the audience through the story. Everything comes from Ifey’s script, but when I’m designing a show it’s my job to bring my own vision into the mix, and that’s what’s so exciting about theatre: the visions of many separate creative people are brought together, rather than the more top-down ‘auteur’-led structure of film for example. So Ifey has provided vital references and details to the visual world she imagined in the writing process, but it’s my job to take what Ifey has created and build on it with Philip and Simi.

When handed a new piece of writing like SESSIONS where do you begin in order to glean ideas for the design of the show?

Not all design processes start in the same place but when you’re working with a script like SESSIONS which takes place very clearly in two separate spaces (Tunde’s flat and the therapy room) it’s crucial to have an in-depth understanding of the real spaces you’re trying to communicate, whether or not you end up representing them realistically. So I started with a lot of visual research into the living spaces of young single men living in urban areas (aka: bachelor pads) and therapy rooms. Since we don’t have the time or resources to do a full scene change between each individual scenes (and that’s boring anyway), I was interested to see if there were similarities between the two spaces which could be drawn out to create a single unified environment which we could transform through quick changes in sound and light. Turns out there were many visual tags which were the same: a neutral colour palette, ambient lighting, a feature lamp, matching modular furniture. So I started with the two real spaces and the features and fixtures you’d find there, and then thought about how we could create a sense of confinement and claustrophobia to amplify Tunde’s mental and emotional state through the space, and that’s where the light-up frames came from.

What are the challenges of designing a set that will have to tour all over the UK?

It’s got to fit in the van! So elements have to be robust, and break down into pieces. It also needs to be quick and easy to set up so your stage manager (the majestic Laura Betty Haynes) doesn’t get exhausted doing the get in and get out by themselves, so the frames break down into metal frames and wooden bases to make them easier to manouevre in and out of venues. The set is also designed so the spacing of the frames can expand and contract to fit the different sizes of venues we’re going through, with the rug providing a gravitational centre.

Don’t miss SESSIONS in the Wilde Theatre on Wed 27 Oct. Book your tickets here.

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