In our next interview, Garrett Cruikshank talks to Costume Designer Nicola Block.
September 30th. Preparations underway for tomorrow’s tech rehearsal for Marat/Sade; Barry French (director) & Spiros Hristias (lighting designer) setting up the lighting.
G.C: Nicola, can you give me a bit of information about your theatrical background?
N.B: I’ve worked professionally in theatre for eight years or so. I’ve done a bit of everything; I’ve been a fly-woman in London’s West End, made costumes for a promenade performance at Hampton Court Palace, designed lighting at fringe venues, and a lot of work as a stage manager and venue technician. I was doing the odd bit of design here and there and came to realise that set and costume were what really excited me. About a year ago I decided to quit my day job as a technician and go freelance as a designer/maker.
G.C: What brought you to Sydney?
N.B: My partner was offered the opportunity to transfer from his company’s London office to Sydney. We talked about it; it sounded like an adventure, so we went for it. I arrived in August, and Marat/Sade is the first production I’ve worked on in Australia.
G.C: How did you get involved in Marat/Sade?
N.B: I was advised that the New Theatre was a good place to go if you’re starting out in Sydney, so I got in touch. At the time the Marat/Sade production team were looking for a costume designer and I jumped at the chance to get involved.
G.C: What’s it like working on such a large cast production with virtually no budget for costumes?
N.B: We’ve moved Marat/Sade to an immigration detention centre in contemporary Australia. Looking at images of refugees, often what they are wearing is not a world away from what we have in our own wardrobes. The cast have been fantastic; we’ve collaborated and they’ve brought in some of their own clothes to suit their characters.
G.C: What have you enjoyed most about being involved with this production and with the New Theatre?
N.B: The people. I’ve had such a warm welcome and its lovely to work with a group so committed to making something new, interesting and relevant.
G.C: Thanks Nicola. We look forward to seeing what you’ve managed to come up with. It sounds like a challenging brief.