Interview with Rebecca Brower, Set and Costume Designer of Beegu
| Tue 2 Dec 2014
Ahead of Beegu opening this week, we talked to designer Rebecca Brower about creating Beegu's world on stage.
Could you tell us about your role in the production?
My role as the Set and Costume Designer is to visualize the world of Alexis Deacon’s Beegu to work on the stage. I work along side the Director and Puppet Designer to create a world where Beegu lives. Not only do I have to create a world in which the story can be told but I also have to create staging that supports the puppetry and creates a flexible space for movement. My role as Costume Designer is to design outfits that hide the puppeteers when the audience wants to focus on Beegu herself but that also fit in with the world and atmosphere around you.
How did you approach creating Beegu’s world?
I started with the book itself. I studied it and pulled out shapes, textures and colours that could be helpful in our process and maintain the feel of the book. From the start, Rachel (the Director) and I talked about how to make Beegu’s world three dimensional but still give the puppeteers enough space to move around. To overcome this, we imagined a lot of Beegu’s world would grow in front of her and started to imagine what it would be like to have a tree that grew from nothing, and even a telephone box. That’s why they became pop up props. The play boards themselves not only act as a surface for Beegu to walk on but also units to contain all of the elements Beegu comes across on her journey so the action of the show is very fluid with continues movement, very much like the feel of the book.
Which elements of Alexis Deacon’s book did you incorporate into the design of the production?
Straight away I loved the colour scheme. I thought this was very important to stay true to, so every audience member could feel like they had jumped into the book. I used the watery colour of the sky in the book to create the painted floor cloth and back drop. I also loved how lots of fluorescent and bright colours would pop out on a very green, brown and grey world. I also loved how there were no straight lines in the entire book which led me to create the overall shape of the design. All of the buildings have wonky lines just like in the book and every prop has a very watercolour painted feel about it.
What sort of materials have you used for the set and costumes?
You find a lot of textured paper qualities in the book and I was keen to keep these in the set and costumes. All of the props are made from fabric and gauze and then painted and the entire set is a painted canvas all to mimic the textured paper feel. For the costumes we used fabric that is woven, so even though it is a solid colour it has a very striking texture to it that we can choose to heighten or lose using front and side lighting. When the cast come in and interact with the audience the textures in the costumes become very prominent but when the cast go back onto the stage and are front lit, they very much disappear into the background.
What can audiences expect from this production of Beegu?
Audiences can expect to have a lot of fun, the show uniquely fills the space and the set spills out into the auditorium in an unexpected way. The production is full of movement and object manipulation, transporting the audience into the perspective of Beegu herself. Plus everyone gets to meet Beegu!
Rebecca Brower is a Theatre Designer. She was nominated for an Off West End Award for Best Set Design for her design of Hamlet at The Rose Theatre Bankside, Shakespeare’s Globe, and was the winner of The Stage Newspaper Design award 2011 aimed at up and coming Theatre Designers and the Equity Young Members Bursary Award 2012. In 2012 Rebecca completed a year on the Design Team for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and in 2011 was in the role of Assistant Associate Designer at the Royal National Theatre. www.rebeccabrower.com