Stage Design Graduates Ruth Badila and Blythe Brett talk about receiving the Linbury Prize for Stage Design in association with the Linbury Trust and the National Theatre

Celebrating over 30 years of nurturing and championing UK stage design talent, the Linbury Prize for Stage Design – in collaboration with the Linbury Trust and National Theatre have recently announced the recipients of their 2021 Award. A cohort consisting of 12 graduates from some of the UK’s top drama schools, the prize offers each winner a bursary of £5,000 and a design associate placement alongside an established designer. A much needed confidence boost, in what has been a very challenging 2 years post the pandemic, the prize offers a chance to acknowledge the great work that continues to take place off stage. Graduate of Wimbledon College of Arts Ruth Badila and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Blythe Brett tell us more about what it means to receive the award, what they’ve taken away from their training so far and their future aspirations!

Ruth Badila

You’re the recipient of the prestigious Linbury Prize for Stage Design. How are you feeling?

I am absolutely delighted to be a Linbury Prize recipient. Completely filled with joy to be on the same platform that has nurtured incredible designers that I truly admire.

The prize includes a bursary and a design associate placement alongside an established designer. What does this mean to receive such valued support from the industry?

In the year that we all had and the uncertainty inthe industry, the support felt like it came atexactly the right time. Creating a space and a platform that doesn’t otherwise exist. Coming into the industry as an emerging designer can be a very intimidating process and the support makes it that much easier.

What have you taken away from your theatre design training so far?

The collaboration process which I really like and find exciting. We are all telling the same story with a different language/tool, in some ways in a similar direction and other ways very different. It creates a very interesting conversation, which creates something truly magical at the end.

What inspired you to pursue a career in theatre design?

I’d taken part in a summer school with University of the Arts. They offered a selection of courses which you could take part in and Theatre Design was among those courses. I quickly realise how much I liked designing and it was an incredible discovery for me, as theatre design isn’t a wildly known career path. It has since sparked my curiosity and I felt very much embedded. It is an exciting industry to be in and a never-ending learning experience.

What are your hopes for the placement and future aspirations?

We currently don’t know what we will be working on it’s a really exciting feeling and place to be in. I am looking forward to discovering what we’ll be working on and with who.

Blythe Brett

What have you taken away from your theatre design training so far?

The main thing my college training left with me is how incredibly hard theatre makers work and how much they really care about what theatre can do. Tutors and teachers who share and connect with contemporary work and questions are incredible. This is a difficult and turbulent industry we are now entering, and as my training continues, I am trying to focus on being open to change, open to new modes and thoughts about theatre and its value in our culture. Trying to read and listen to a lot more outside of my comfort zone and keep learning, keep learning, keep learning.

What inspired you to pursue a career in theatre design?

I owe a lot to my drama teachers, and to the young directors who take time to enter schools and work with young people. Starting out as a performer and maker in youth theatre groups before I discovered designing has really aided me in viewing theatre craft as a total process – designing isdirecting, moving, writing, thinking. Pushing at the edges of what a truly collaborative process can be excites me, and collaboration and people are what keep me inspired and motivated to make theatre.

What are your hopes for the placement and future aspirations?

Meeting and discovering new people and spaces feels key in this time, having conversations about where young artists, makers and audiences want to take theatre and the performances they want to see in the future – we should be tuning into this, and making as much change and challenge as we can, even in tiny steps. At the moment I am particularly interested in exploring the role of landscape in theatre, our relationship to and use of materials and how making space for sustainability in theatre could guide us in new directions in aesthetics and ethics.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

To find out more about the Linbury Prize for Stage Design, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop