The Creative Associates of NST Laboratory are celebrating what Southampton makes now! Their upcoming performance of I Won’t Make It On My Own will be on the main stage at Nuffield Southampton Theatres 5-7 October. We met up with Sam to find out more...
Tell us about yourself and your role.
Hi, I’m Sam and I’m the set and costume designer for I Won’t Make It On My Own. Believe it or not I used to be a maths teacher. I got involved in the theatre industry starting off as an actor...I was terrible. I moved to directing and was even worse. A friend of mine was doing a show and the designer dropped out so I fell into doing it and I’m very glad I did! As the Lab Associate for design I concern myself with everything that’s visual. Set, costume, everything in the scene - if you can see it then it's been part of my job!
What made you want to become a Designer?
I have always been interested in theatre and knew I wanted to work in the area from a very early age, I don’t know if I was drawn or pushed towards teaching but after that didn’t work out I decided to pursue my dream more directly.
At the time I thought, or rather didn’t think, that to work in theatre you had to be an actor or a director and I spent a bit of time at both, needless to say I was terrible, as a director I wasn’t concerned about motivation or language or anything other than the visuals really, it took a really good friend to notice that maybe I should try my hand at designing and I’ve never looked back. It suited my skill set perfectly, without knowing it I’d been building up to it my whole life, which is probably why I'm so good at it!
What interested you most about working on this project?
The act and examination of making as a process is hugely interesting and as a professional “maker” it’s been an unexpected and enriching thing to soak myself in. Winston Churchill said that; “first you shape the building and then the building shapes you” and I think that's true of all making, it begins as a process of self exploration and ends in one of self enrichment, and even improvement. Whether you make a great cup of tea, a table or a mess, the things we make are, at least in part, our thought process given form. I could go on for hours.
Have you faced any challenges in your position during this project?
We’re devising the show, so it has inherent challenges over, say, picking up Midsummer Night's Dream and getting on with it. The main thing that I’ve found challenging about this process is also the privilege of it, we have had such a long rehearsal time, which has been great, I’ve never had the chance to read and research so much in and around a show as I have with this one but it’s also a new process for me.
Most of my professional training and other work I’ve done tends to be quite fast paced and intensive, this one is different, it’s great but I feel like we've found enough interesting stuff to make about 5 shows and I know that the next day, the next book, the next thing we discuss or make is just going to give us even more.
What have you enjoyed most about being an Associate at NST?
Loads! I was born in Winchester and had family around Southampton and spent a lot of time seeing shows here when I was younger, shaping my love of theatre. It’s really nice to be a part of it myself now.