The Balcony – Madame Irma’s House of Illusions Through the Dissection of Jean Genet
This is a theoretical set design for an adaptation of Jean Genet’s Le Balcon – The Balcony – but it is designed for film rather than theatre. It was a project set for my course in Design for Film and Television at Nottingham Trent University.
The play is set in a brothel and is loosely based around the French Revolution. I decided to completely change the setting and instead set it within the automation of Jean Genet himself. One of the main reasons for this was because the play can be interpreted as a dissection of the writer himself. It reveals his ideas surrounding power structures – he was a bit of an anarchist, something I can relate to. It’s quite an obscure piece – people like it but aren’t sure what to do with the all the visual information. If you’re designing without a budget on a theoretical project, why not go wild and see how far you can push yourself?
I try to be a sponge and let all manner of things inspire me. All my ideas start off as pencil sketches, and then develop into pen and watercolour pieces. I then render it onto a computer using Photoshop and a graphics tablet. The whole project took around five weeks; the technical drawings take the longest because you have to work out all the correct measurements, and discover how it will hold structurally. The model is carefully measured out on card, cut and built from the technical drawings. That’s the hardest bit.
My dad is a film sound designer and I’d go down to the sets whenever I could and absolutely loved it. He was working on Bunny and the Bull at the old Carlton Studio, I went to visit him and it turned out they needed some help in the art department. I was handed a paint brush and off I went. I was complimented on my work, and it became my first paid job in an art department.
Set design is a massive passion of mine. I designed the set for Mrs Green: The Musical’s Nottingham Playhouse and Leicester Curve shows, and worked with local directors Mark Davenport and Jack Curtis over the summer. Recently, I’ve had work experience on Channel 4’s Humans and ITV’s Beowulf.
I enjoy what I do because you can be creative yet accurate. You can think up new worlds that don’t exist when tasked with developing a sci-fi set, or have to research what kind of rope was used for washing lines over a hundred years ago. Detail is key.
Rebecca will be exhibiting for her final end of of degree show in May 2016. The collection will also hopefully be touring at Pinewood Studios and New Designers, London.