Shirley Valentine - Behind the scenes

Shirley Valentine - Behind the scenes

We chat to Shirley Valentine Set and Costume Designer, Su Newell

Shirley Valentine rehearsals are well under way and we caught up with the show’s Set and Costume Designer Su Newell who tells us how she brings the aesthetic world of Shirley to life for audiences…

Could you tell us about your role in the production?

I am the Set and Costume Designer for Shirley Valentine, which involves creating both how the world Shirley exists within looks and how Shirley herself looks, in order to tell the story vividly for the audience.

What is the first thing you do when you begin designing a show?

Read the script (several times) and note down anything that seems relevant or interesting.  Meet with the Director and discuss vision and ideas and what we want the story to achieve visually.  I then search for references, images, ideas, places, memories, stories that support and enhance the ideas, as this helps communicate to other members of the team.

Does the final design change from your initial concept throughout the production process?

Yes for both aesthetic and practical reasons.  With Shirley Valentine being a one woman show, the actor in the role will also be considered when making decisions and will have input during the rehearsal process.

This production of the Shirley Valentine is set in 1990’s Accrington – how is that portrayed in the set and costumes?

The time will be mostly defined through props and costume – with hints at what was current in the mid to late 1980’s, as little that Shirley has would be brand new.  The location will be more in the text and little hints with phone codes and football clubs references on the set.

What advice would you give to aspiring designers?

Always have a notebook and write ides down constantly.  Take pictures of things on your phone.  Read plays.  Go to the theatre.  Take any opportunity to observe Designers working.

If you could only have 5 things in your design toolkit, what would they be?

A scale ruler                                        

Sharp pencils

Masking tape

Craft knife

The Internet (is that allowed??)

Don’t miss our brand-new production of Shirley Valentine, Willy Russell’s award-winning comedy starring Mina Anwar when it comes to the Library Theatre from Mon 10 – Sat 29 February! More info and book here