This term our focus is 18th Century theatre. We have been given the choice between two plays from the era to design for. The designs will be for the RSC’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The two plays we have been given are ‘The Recruiting Officer’ by George Farquhar (1706) and ‘The Beggars Opera’ By John Gay (1728). Both the plays explore ideas of class however both are very different.

The play I have decided to focus on is ‘The Beggars Opera’, this is because I think the play is the more interesting of the two and so has more to play with. In reading the play a key theme of rebellion stands out to me, and so has led me to consider trying to incorporate the 1970s subculture of the Punk movement into my design scheme. I think that this could give the show an edge and also make it more relatable to modern culture.


Hogarth’s Beggars Opera etching


The costume concept for a tourable show needs to be clever, particularly for this show. For this show I have been given 5 actors and a stage manager to play 9 characters plus act as a collective cast. This means each actor will have to take on more than one character, and so more than one costume.

Due to the fact that the majority of the play Red Red Shoes is narrated by the ‘cast’ I am in need of a over all costume that can act as a blank canvas for the actors. To this canvas I will then add small items of costume that allow them to become the more major characters.

For my basic costume I initially contemplated plain ‘blacks’, but soon decided this would be too boring, too amateur for what I wanted to achieve. So this lead me to consider running with the medical theme, and putting them all in a pair of grey scrubs.

For each cast member to become their characters, they will add simple items to their scrubs. The idea is that Franvera is telling her story to a doctor in a medical facility. For this reason I see all the characters apart from the doctor as figments of Franvera’s imagination. Each cast member will pick up items from Franvera’s room to become their character. Franvera’s room will begin a little messy with a lot in it, but by the end of the play it will be very bare, it will become a medical room.




My idea for franvera’s costume design revolves around the theme of having your life wrapped away from you that features in the play. She begins in a wrap coat which, during the show, she will remove to reveal a cable knit jumper over a skirt. This is then removed to reveal a hospital gown. She will wear red pointe shoes as her ‘Red Red Shoes’. I chose ballet as the form of dance because I think it is the most recognisable form of dance within a young community.



‘old soldier with a long wooden coat full of holes, as if he had been shot 100 times but never killed. He has a beard that is so red it glows in the darkness.’

This quote has influenced my vision of Red Beard a lot. I would like him to be dressed in a old fashioned woolen coat ridden with holes. Thinking back to the idea of the characters finding their costumes in Franvera’s bedroom; His coat will also double as her school bag somehow, and to create a red beard he will find a chunky red scarf.

Red Beard.jpg


It is mentioned in the play that the old lady is wearing a black shawl. This lead me to consider putting her into a wooden poncho, I think that this is a more modern version of the shawl. The poncho would be found on Franvera’s bed and will double as her blanket.



The mother will also be using the poncho/ blanket as her costume. she will somehow wind it up and use it as a head scarf. This is due to the description of the guests at the party at the beginning of the play. The women are described to be wearing ‘black headscarves’.



The father is a football coach at the local school. I want him to be dressed in a training bib with a whistle around his neck. This is because I think these are objects that you might find in a little girls room, especially if her Dad is a coach.



The soldier will pick up the lampshade to form a helmet, and also re use the vest as a arm cuff.



I want Anna to be dressed in a little pinafore that she finds in Franvera’s drawers. I think that having her in a school uniform helps again to demonstrate the normality of both characters lives before the events unfold. It is also an item of clothing that Franvera would own.





This week we have been introduced into the idea of Projection Mapping by the projection designer; Barret. I think its an interesting concept to understand, and consider including within designs. The idea is that images can be projected onto any surface in sequences, giving another layer to any design.

Within this workshop we were introduced to a variety of programs that allow you to accurately map and cue the projections. We also had a go at it ourselves. We were taken to Barret’s studio, which happened to be a small chapel. The idea was to allow us to try out the software, and to light a specific place.

We were split down into small groups and told to attempt to project a moment from Hamlet. Our group chose to look at when Polonius is stabbed, in particular the idea of revealing and concealing.

We chose a small window in the chapel to project onto. This was down to the variety of surfaces we could map images onto. After deciding our backdrop we set off to source images and videos for the projection.

Our idea was to find textures that could depict Polonius through imagery. We thought about Polonius and how he had a family, came across as quite sly and deceptive, loyal to Claudius, has strong ambitions, traditional; the idea was to try to show this. From these key themes I thought that we could use more industrial features to show him as a straight laced and efficient character. I also liked the idea of the contrast between the modern industrial fittings and the period architecture of the Chapel.

To create the Projection we used Qlab. This program allows you to accurately map images onto the window and also to create a simple cue list. Within the cue list it also allows you to add auto cues, and timers to the sequence. I really enjoyed learning this new software, and solving the problems that it brought.

Our final piece:

Final Video



The puppet will begin asleep in the centre of the stage. The puppet will be awoken by the arrival of the puppeteers. This is something we learnt in Pervin’s masterclass, waking the puppet up is almost bringing them to life.

This scene is based around the quote ‘to love me is to love a haunted house’. The background of this scene will be a light shadow window in the top right had corner of the back drop. This will be simple and quite large; 4 light boxes arranged as a window. We will haunt this scene by using more light shadows. Manipulating a mirror in front of a light, will enable us to reflect ghostly shapes onto the backdrop around the window. This will be done behind gauge.

This scene will be effectively the beginning of the puppets day.


In this scene the puppet will be awakening, attempting to go about it’s normal day. The scene is designed to portray how difficult it can be for a person struggling with mental health issues to get up, how simple tasks for everyone else can be huge for them.

The puppets movements will be slow and well thought out, in order to show the struggle. Having the puppet make quite inward movements enable the audience to read its emotions as sad and anxious.

In this scene the background will change to a shadow of a graveyard to respond to the section;

‘I have a cemetery in my backyard,

and in my front yard,

and in my bedroom.’ 


The puppet begins this scene by walking through the cemetery, that features in the previous scene. It then begins to run, as if it has been scared.

Panic is a stubborn phantom,

she will grab hold of me

and not let go for months- 

this is the part of the story

where everyone is telling you to run.

I think that here the phantom is the thing that scares the puppet, spooks it into running. As a group we are considering including some sort of shadow ‘panic’. The idea so far is that we have a small cut out figure that we put in front of the light, possibly moving so that it enlarges as the puppet runs.


The puppet stands and acts almost skeletal.

My anxiety is a camera,

that shows everyone I love as bones.’

Ideally we would like another puppet to be back stage. We would shine a light on this puppet to show a shadow of an almost skeletal form on the backdrop. Here the puppet on stage will have a breakdown and slump to the floor as if it was a pile of bones.


This is the scene designed to be the ‘up’ point of the characters day, the happy part. All people who suffer from anxiety don’t spend the entire town sad, they have happy points too. In the case of Brenna her happy times are with her love that she mentions a lot.

so we turn the music up

and we dance to Miles Davis.’

Here the puppet begins to dance around the stage, almost as if they are dancing with a non existence person. In the background, the window appears again, but this time with dancing puppet figures as well. This helps to suggest that the dancing with this ‘love’ is just a memory? it is not a constant in her life?


Scene 5 leads well into this scene.


this love will not cure me’

As if to say this ‘love’ is happy and great and it brings her up for a period of time, but her anxiety can not be taken from her.

Here the puppet reaches up into the corner, it attempts to grab a shadow hand that also appears. Unfortunately for this puppet the shadow hand is to high and to far away.


To love me is to love a haunted house,

its fun to visit once year,

but no one wants to live there’

The puppet fall asleep again, the opposite of the first scene. The idea is to symbolise the fact that mental health is a cycle, one moment you are happy and one moment you are right back down again.



Our groups final idea for our puppet show stems from the initial concept of mental health. Our show is to be focused around a poem that comments on the struggles of a woman living with severe anxiety. It is full of striking metaphors that help to describe her feelings, and the feelings of others with similar health issues. We felt, as a group, that the poem is easy to relate to and can help us to enlighten others to the struggles faced by those who live with mental health issues.

Anxiety: a ghost story.’ By Brenna Twhoy

Our idea is to take key words, phrases and ideas from this poem and act them out using our puppet. Previously we had discussed how horror could become an interesting theme to look at within a puppet show. By using this poem we feel we can touch on this idea.

‘to love me is to love a haunted house,

it’s fun to visit once a year,

but no one wants to live there.’

This is one of the key quotes we have taken from the poem. The idea of comparing the body to architecture, from a design point of view, is an interesting one. There is a lot we can do with this.