arts entertainment culture
Designer Annie Brooks

An interview with the set, props and costume designer from Leaper: A Fish Tale

Posted on 29 Mar 2016

Stop Press

Name: Annie Brooks

Role in the project: I am the designer for Leaper. My role is to design and make the set, props and costumes for the show.

Day in the life of Leaper: 

There are different stages to designing a show – firstly I’ll do some rough sketches to get the ideas flowing and get the overall feel of what I want it to look like. Next comes the really fun bit – the model box. For this show I made a model 16 times smaller than the full scale set.

This is a really important part of the job because it gives you a really good idea of how the set will look and I can address any potential problems before I start making the real thing. (Plus, you get to feel like a giant for a day.) After that, my average day can go anywhere from making a handmade barrel to painting barnacles on a door frame. And lots of cups of tea.

What do you like most about your job? 

I love the variety of cool things I get to make, whether it be a tray of salmon eggs or a mini fishing boat.

I find it really satisfying to work out what materials to use and how best to make the designs come to life. I spend quite a lot of my time browsing in B&Q shops for inspiration – often the most mundane piece of plumbing pipe can be given a new lease of life and made into something completely new!

About 40% of our set and puppets are made out of recycled or reclaimed materials either from things lyon around the house, skips, charity shops or even beach combs on Brighton beach!

Why is teaching children about conservation important?

It is imperative that children - and adults - are taught about conservation. We all live on the same planet and need to share the space fairly and respect each other.

In the fast-paced, busy world we live in, it’s very easy to forget where our food comes from and where our waste goes after we’ve binned it – it’s important that we sometimes take a step back and think about how we as individuals can help maintain a sustainable environment.

It’s great for children to learn this for themselves at an early stage so they understand their own responsibility in the world, but also to pass on the message to their parents, which they do very effectively!

Why use theatre? 

I think it’s really effective when dealing with issues or themes, that they are communicated through storytelling. Through theatre, an audience can connect to the characters in the show and empathise with their individual journey on a smaller and more palatable scale. It can often be overwhelming to take in all the facts about a particular subject, yet through storytelling, we are able to receive the information more readily, and with emotions.

It also gives the audience the chance to formulate their own opinions and conclusions without being told what to think.

What part of the show are you most excited about? 

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the set finished and in the theatre to see how it transforms the space. It’s quite exciting to see creations that you have dreamt up with a pencil and paper, come to fruition and turn into a whole theatre show.