Nadine Froehlich is a graduate of the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, located at Camberwell, and then progressed onto Wimbledon for her undergraduate course. She graduated from BA Theatre Design in 2017, she continues to work in theatre design as well as temping at UAL. We spoke to her about her experience at Wimbledon and what she has been up to in the last year.
Tell us a bit about your course and your time at Wimbledon:
I enjoyed my time at Wimbledon as it really gave me time to mature as an artist, to develop my skills and understanding in the theatre arts. There are many great theatre pathways at Wimbledon, but for me BA Theatre Design was the right course to go into. I knew I wanted to learn more about this broad practice and pursue a creative career in designing and making for theatre.
Before I started the course I hadn’t seen a lot of shows or knew much about anything other than conventional theatre. I was at a stage where I didn’t want to choose anything too specialised. I wanted to get a hint of all things theatre design, therefore this course seemed suitable as it touched on designing the set and costume, but also how you can construct the set and costumes. The course encourages innovative design, for you to think outside the box and teaches you to solve problems. I was exposed to unconventional styles of theatre, which do not use the traditional stage and setting, but are outside of theatre walls, this really fascinated me.
The skills you learn throughout your time are transferable that you can apply to all kinds of performance arts, events big or small, videos, photo-shoots etc. It really is about using your time wisely and knowing what you want to gain from it all. When other years or courses have shows you are given the opportunity to assist with lighting, work as stage manager or part of the crew.
Your final year is really where you start to learn more about yourself as a theatre design practitioner and your ability to take performative arts in all kinds of directions. I believe doing this course at an art school really gives you that artistic freedom to go as grand as you want and realise the importance of theatre and theatre arts.
What about your background? How did you come to study at Wimbledon?
I originally intended to do a degree in fine art, but it was in my foundation year that I found out more about the arts within theatre and costume. After seeing the Theatre Design pathway slideshow, when we had to decide our specialism, I knew I had to go for it and since then I have never looked back. Choosing my degree course truly started from trusting my impulses.
I am fortunate enough to live in London. London is such a great city for theatre, why would I want to go anywhere else? I wanted to go to Wimbledon as I had heard such good things about the theatre courses, and the possibility to collaborate with the other theatre pathways was something I thought only Wimbledon had.
How did studying at Wimbledon influence and inform your practice?
From my time training at Wimbledon I have an idea of what is required of me when working on projects, I have that knowledge and understanding of what I need to get on with. Of course, I believe we never stop learning and we are always improving our craft on each project we work on, whatever it may be. Throughout each project at Wimbledon you are constantly improving and learning from your mistakes and excelling in places where you did well in.
There are my peers and classmates – training alongside people who share the same passion, similar goals and are learning with you plays a huge part in your own development. Being in the studio almost every day, working on different projects, whether together or independently, you get to be within a close-knit network of aspiring designers. There was always someone nearby who wouldn’t mind popping over to see what I was working on, sharing their thoughts or criticisms that helped me see my work from different perspectives. I was always happy to take a break and wander off to see what other class mates were up to and discuss ideas. We always supported each other, helped each other to find alternative solutions and gave each other tips.
Did you have any particular highlights whilst at Wimbledon?
There were quite a few projects I really enjoyed, but my highlight was in third year when a group of us collaborated with the students from East 15 Acting School. Each of us designed a show for their debut festival of new writing. The structure and experience of this project was one that I feel really changed me into a confident and collaborative designer. We were involved in all the production meetings, rehearsals, costume fittings, as well as sourcing and painting the set. Once I saw my set come to life and the actors within it, there really was a change within me. I suddenly felt like, you know what, I can do this!
What have you been doing since leaving Wimbledon?
Since graduating I went to Edinburgh Fringe festival with the theatre company from East 15, to work on my previously designed set and I was also a member of their stage crew. I have been getting involved in as many theatre projects as I can, assisting and making. I designed and made costume for a dance show and recently designed the set for Tim Price’s ‘Protest Song’.
This April I designed the set for ‘Protest Song’, produced by The Florence Theatre Company, at Barons Court Theatre. I met the producer of The Florence Theatre Company at a networking event and was asked to be involved in future productions. The play, written by Tim Price, is about a rough sleeper in St Paul’s during ‘Occupy’.
I wanted the character to be surrounded by the types of things a rough sleeper would have collected to make their own make-shift home, there also needed to be some sort of suggestion that we were at St Paul’s. I decided to incorporate the banners into the iconic dome, I was pleased once it all came together, I could get a sense of the passionate and loud energy that would have been prominent during this time.
Do you have any influences?
What I find fun about what I do is I am always working on something completely different than before. Depending on the narrative, time, and emotion being conveyed by the performance I might be working on, I am always seeking for inspiration from different sources. I have been influenced by different styles of art, different ideas, and I try to look at a story from different perspectives. I do believe that our own environment is a massive influence on the approach we take.
Were you involved in any UAL societies, or did you temp for UAL?
I did boxing for a little bit in second year and yoga in my third year. Yoga was great because on a Wednesday it is in Wimbledon, so when I was working all day in the studio it was nice to take a break and fit some yoga in! From second year I became a student ambassador working on the open days as well as some outreach events and UCAS fairs.
Do you have any advice for future students considering your course?
My advice for anyone considering this course is to try wholeheartedly, try new things and new ideas. I believe this is a valuable time to experiment and explore different ways you can work. If you want to focus more in costume then do, if you want to focus more in prop making, then do! These are your years, challenge yourself and always stay curious.