Co-set and Costume Designers Camilla Clarke and Rosie Elnile talk about working on Award Winning Writer, Jasmine Lee-Jones show ‘curious’, showing at the Soho Theatre

Currently debuting her latest show curious, a show exploring the lives of two young, Black, queer actresses trying to find out who they are, award winning writer Jasmine Lee-Jones returns, this time, to the Soho Theatre until 16th October. Establishing the show’s visual aesthetic, co-set and costume designers Camilla Clarke and Rosie Elnile tell us more about working with the show’s themes to realise the visual language, challenges faced in doing so and what they’ve taken away from working on the show!

Hi Rosie and Camilla, your set and costume design work can currently be seen in award winning writer, Jasmine Lee-Jones world premiere of curious, playing at the Soho Theatre until 16th Oct. How are you feeling?

We are feeling like we miss each other (Rosie is now in London and Milla is in Lisbon) – the process felt short and there is always this weird feeling after opening night when everyone disbanded and you feel kind of lonely. We also feel excited that we made this big thing dreamy together and it’s going to be shared which feels good.

We feel like working in collaboration was important (this is the first time we have done this) and we’d like it to happen again because it was rich and expanding. It feels easier to celebrate the project because we are celebrating each other rather than ourselves.

curious explores the lives of two actresses who are young, Black, queer and trying to find out who they are. What inspired you both to take part in the production?

We wanted to work on it because we love Jaz and her amazing mind and also we love Anna and her gentle intelligent way of working – her logic opens up our imagination.

We felt inspired by the hugeness of Jaz’s ambition.

We had been doing lots of thinking about archives and the visual space for archiving – there is something about the idea of visual refusal and the way that Jaz’s play refuses a linear narrative  that excited both of us.We love the way that she bends and messes with time (liner time is a colonial construct)- because we felt we could match this nonlinearity way way in our design. Her play finds the people that have not been included in the canon of British history and constructs these narratives around them –  that gives us an opportunity to be super imaginative – the mythological archive!

You’re both responsible for the show’s aesthetic element, having created the set and costume design. How have you collaborated to realise these aspects?

It‘s opulent and luxurious and very comfortable – we really wanted to make a safe comfortable space for Jaz to perform in.

We wanted to challenge what a default or blank space looked and felt like. We have made something that feels very femme and soft. For us, it asked us to question hierarchical spaces and “traditional” narratives.  It’s ultimately a space for fantasy. We both make fantastical sci-fi worlds in our own practices and love the fantastical possibilities of digital spaces.

Our collaboration was pretty fluid – we find it easy to work together – we would draw upon similar versions of the same thing and pass 3d models and lots of  images black and forth. And while our taste isn’t the same (which isn’t necessary for a co-design we don’t think) we have a lot of respect for each other’s ideas and found they could quite easily merge into one.

Were there any challenges?

Budget and time – we worked with an amazing team to make the show but we wanted more time both in rehearsals and during tech. Massive appreciation and respect for Seb, our production manager who worked so creatively and kindly with us.

What have you taken away from working on the production?

You don’t always have to have a quick answer – you can let something permeate for a while, unashamedly. Anna, Myah and Jaz would sit and talk through the play and that was so useful to be a part of, to allow for moments of possibility and sit in them for a bit

We are planning a design-led project together to explore ideas that grew in the show – thinking about objects, process and our relationship to one another’s works – so in that sense the legacy of this project in our own work has been pretty big!

What can audiences expect from the show?

Expectation places high stakes on something – which makes us feel a bit nervous – we can guarantee Jaz Lee-Jones and E.J our brilliant stage manager.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

Written by Theatrefullstop