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Meet the Course Leader – Lucy Algar, BA Theatre Design

Lucy Algar and her first year students after the drawing dance workshop
Written by
Sophie Kassay
Published date
13 December 2018

Lucy Algar is the Course Leader for the BA Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Arts, and also works as an established theatre and performance designer. Her industry experience is extensive, varied and very impressive, which is why she is able to draw on her wealth of knowledge to prepare her students for future careers in theatre design.

We sat down with Lucy to discuss what she enjoys most about working in theatre and what’s next for her practice.

What do you think makes Theatre Design at Wimbledon different from other similar courses available elsewhere?

The main thing about Wimbledon’s course is that it is within an art school environment, so our students leave this course with the skills that the industry requires, but also this incredible confidence in their own conceptual ability.

Our students make ideas happen through realised shows. Here, students can be right at the core of theatre making, using design as one of the initial triggers for a piece. All of the students here realise work, making new shows with directors, choreographers and performers. We have a great theatre here on site, which is an amazing space to work in. So, we make work, and from there the students form a network with performers, directors and choreographers. The course brings together the best of art school education alongside making performance.

A woman in a blue suit and hat holding up a piece of paper with blue flowery wallpaper behind her.
‘Black Tuesday’, a production designed by BA Theatre Design students and performed in our onsite theatre (photo by Alys Tomlinson)

What do you love most about teaching at Wimbledon?

I love the fact that at the core of the course is making work. This includes performance itself and all the processes that one uses as a designer to make performance, whether it be drawing, model making, CAD drawing and understanding materials; all of that happens here at Wimbledon. We have wood workshops, we have metal workshops, we’ve got a huge passion for drawing, so it feels just a fantastic place to make, draw and talk about process.

We also conduct research in these fields as academics, but at the core of it is passing on our passion for making. At the end of the day, the doing is more important than the writing about the doing. Writing and research is important too, but here at Wimbledon making work is what’s most important.

A still of a man and a woman drawing.
A still from this year’s drawing dance workshop (photo: Mateusz Baj)

What projects are your students currently working on or what will they be working on in the near future?

The first year students have just finished working on their first model making project, and that leads into a costume design project where they investigate a text and a piece of music and make some costumes in response to that. Following on from that they can work on making a complete design proposal for an opera or a play.

The second year students are about to start working with site-specific projects. They have just been topping up their vector works projects, so they have been learning how to use computer aided design.

For the third years, the main thing they are working on are realised collaborative projects with London Contemporary Dance School, Middlesex University and the Lyric Hammersmith. Some of the shows that that come out of their collaborations have already taken place and the others will happen early next year.

A small scale model of a set.
A still from this year’s drawing dance workshop (photo: Mateusz Baj)

Can you tell us about your own practice?

I trained as a theatre designer and most of my work initially was in theatre, but since then I have also worked in television and in creating pop promos. I’ve also created a lot of public artwork in hospitals, so my work is about creating designs for people in different environments, whether that’s a hospital or a theatre or wherever. Most recently I’ve been working primarily with dancer/choreographer Kirill Burlov creating new dance performances, using drawing as my key creative process.  We have also run a series of Drawing Performance workshops here at UAL and in other universities in the UK and Europe.

Find out more about studying BA Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Arts.