Designer Holly Pigott, who grew up in Bradford on Avon, tells us how she came to be designing a double bill of plays at Salisbury Playhouse.
Five years ago in a studio at Wiltshire College, a tutor told me that my paintings were ‘theatrical’. I had always enjoyed theatre – both watching it and creating it – but I had never considered that it could form the career I have today.
I work as a Performance Designer, which means I design everything you see in a production; the set, the costumes, sometimes the actual space. As a designer I am responsible for the overall atmosphere of a performance and work tirelessly to create continuity between the colours, textures and materials that I employ. I work collaboratively alongside a director from an early stage and often the entire production is designed before the actors begin rehearsals.
I trained to do this at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where I studied Theatre Design for three years. During my study I was able to explore all areas of theatrical arts from designing and building an intricate 1:25 scale model of a chair, to puppeteering a life size tiger for an outdoor performance. The course encouraged me to be creative and imaginative whilst providing me with the necessary practical skills and knowledge to become a tactful designer.
I have been working as a professional for two years and it has been an exhilarating experience of collaboration with talented and inspiring people. After graduating I was lucky enough to be selected as one of 12 finalists in the Linbury Prize – the UK’s most prestigious award for Stage Design, which aims to launch young designers into the industry. This unique opportunity provided me with the chance to showcase myself and my work to hundreds of directors, choreographers and other designers, with an exhibition of my work at the National Theatre in London. I have since designed for a selection of London theatres, including the Young Vic, Trafalgar Studios, the Gate Theatre and the Arcola, and have recently finished an internship with the Royal Shakespeare Company where I worked as an Assistant Designer for a year.
I am currently designing a double-bill of two shows for the Salisbury Playhouse – Elegy for a Lady and The Yalta Game. I have been working with the director, Emily Watson Howes, since May on a design for these two beautiful short plays about love, loneliness and what it means to lose someone. We’ve created what is hopefully a sensitive design that highlights the surreal nature of the world in which both these plays exist.
It is an honour to be back in Wiltshire for this exciting project and I hope to see you all in Salisbury next month.
Elegy for a Lady and The Yalta Game can be seen in The Salberg at Salisbury Playhouse from Wednesday 2 to Saturday 19 October. For tickets and other enquiries please contact the box office on 01722 320333 or visit www.salisburyplayhouse.com.