Behind the scenes with ...



Set Designer, How I Learned To Drive.

In this blog series our actors interview members of the creative team that the audience doesn’t get to see. In this one, Sean (Uncle Peck) talks to Lloyd (Set Designer)…

Sean: You studied technical theatre at Lasalle What’s the biggest difference between practicing there, and working in the professional theatre scene?

Lloyd: I would say the biggest difference is having the convenience of a space to work in! I’ve built a lot of sets in Singapore and having your own space is extremely rare. Also, being in a school environment, everyone is always around. You don’t have to wait a week just to get a sit down with a team member to have a meeting. The best thing? Everyone is your classmate! 

Sean: If you weren’t a theatre designer, what other career would you like?

Lloyd: I would most likely pursue a career as a chef, or maybe a vet. I’ve always felt that I should do something with my hands instead of sitting at a desk all day. Aside from theatre, I love to both cook, and care for animals.

Sean: You’ve worked with big budgets and small budgets (and I know ours is small!). How does that change your creative process? 

Lloyd: There is certainly an advantage with having more money. But for me, I’d say the disadvantage as a designer would be that you tend to be more complacent. Having a small budget forces you to think about every little detail and item. It makes you think harder about creating most effective way to tell the visual story simply, and most of the time you’ll have to even build it yourself! 

Sean: As actors, we never get to see what our work looks like from an audience perspective, but you do. What does it feel like?

Lloyd: It is absolutely breathtaking. Nerve wrecking for the first couple of performances as I’ll be literally on the edge of my seat hoping everything goes smoothly. But it really is an indescribable feeling when you see the work you and your team have been working so hard on for the past couple of months, right there on stage for everyone to see. 

Sean: Lots of people make up the creative team on every theatre project. Which role or relationship is most pivotal for a designer?

Lloyd: I feel that every person and role plays a crucial part in the creation of any show. What is important is to have good and constant communication with the director as well as the other creatives, both to bounce ideas off each other and to make sure everyone is on the same page so as to provide the best possible aesthetic for the show. 

Sean: Theatre makers tell stories. How does set design influence the way those stories are told? 

Lloyd: Set design to me is the telling of stories from beyond the text. To tell the visual story, to create environments and spaces that help audiences better understand the performance. With an effective design, it creates an experience for the audience from the moment they enter the theatre. Even before they see the first performer appear, they are already being told a story. 

Sean: Name another designer whose work you like, and say why.

Lloyd: Jo Mielziner. He is a highly regarded designer in the commercial theatre scene in America back in the 1950’s. Both before and after the Second World War. He was the designer who made me understand that design should arise not only from understanding the play but also from understanding the performance. And that the atmosphere on stage is equally as important to the script for the play.  He was a designer who was able to establish that stage design was part of the performance and that it should both translate the play into a visual language and also offer a complementary perspective. 

Sean: ‘Bump in’ is the process of putting the set up on stage for the first time. What goes through your mind the night before that happens?

Lloyd: I will try my best to get a good nights sleep! I need to make sure that I am well rested and ready for the first day of bump in. It helps me focus better and be much more alert to everything around me.  

Sean: What’s the worst thing that’s ever gone wrong?

Lloyd: The worst thing that could ever happen is to have the set pieces fail during a scene change. That would be a nightmare because it would break the illusion that we’ve tried so hard to create. But so far, I’m extremely thankful that nothing like that happened to the shows that I’ve worked on. 

Sean: Why did you want to design How I Learned to Drive?

Lloyd: It’s such an engaging show. At first I thought it was something about cars haha! But once I read the script, it was so thought provoking that I just couldn’t help but start sketching ideas. I wanted to create something that would help spark that intensity of feeling for the audience, like it did for me! 

How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel runs from 21-29 June at Drama Centre Black Box. Tickets available on SISTIC.