I applied for the opportunity to be part of the design team for the NST Youth Theatre’s production of Class because it represented a unique opportunity to explore lighting and sound design and learn from the NST Lab Associate Designers. Designing the sound and lighting has been an amazing crash course from assisting and shadowing the designers on the Nuffield Youth Theatre production of How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Fin Kennedy to teaching myself to use Qlab after learning the basics from Annie, the NST Lab’s Associate Sound Designer.
Inspired by what we believe to be the show’s key themes from school, to the digital world to politics, the design for Class is, in a word, playful. It has to be to combine aspects of a classroom, online chatroom, the House of Commons and the nail-biting suspense of a school election. Once Sam and Jess showed us the model box and their idea to link online personas to ‘real’ characters through colour, we knew our lighting design had to do their set justice. The lighting uses colour to link characters but also to mimic political party and system colours, the House of Commons and to show ideological shifts through the play. Our aim is to play with the unmistakable similarities between the shows characters and the politicians in the current political system whilst clearly defining the gap between the online and real worlds and young people’s focus on the digital world often leaves them disenfranchised and feeling powerless.
MPs taking their seats, coughing, talking and flicking through papers. That’s what you hear as you enter the Studio at NST City before the show. One of our first ideas, this represents the established order that you walk into and we hope that as you leave to a very different soundscape, you’ll understand why the contrasts in our design are so important. The sound design will hopefully take you from a phone screen to the streets, whilst being nicely packaged in two school bells that begin and end the lunch hour in which Class takes place.
When I was asked to write about the design for Class, I came up with an extremely dull first draft. It is difficult to write about the design for the show without giving away too much about the show itself. See and hear all we’ve done in the Studio at NST City on the 28th, 29th and 30th of March.