heads bodies legs: the making of a theatre show from the visual designer’s point of view

The official image for the promotion of the Heads Bodies Legs

The making of the altered book for the promotion of Heads Bodies Legs

The altered book made for the promotion of Heads Bodies Legs

For the past months I have been working on the design of illustrations, animation and book art for a new theatre production that has been performed at The Space, in East London, for the first two weeks of August.

Some pictures of rehearsal sessions, general information and news can be found on our blog, here.

My contribution to the project started in October last year, when I was asked by director Rachel Malone to respond with a couple of sketches to an embryonal version of a play being constantly rewritten and refined by author Ezra Elia.

The absurdist nature of the script gave me a high level of freedom, especially at the first stage of the collaboration.

One of my first sketches for Heads Bodies Legs

One of my first sketches for Heads Bodies Legs

One of my first sketches for Heads Bodies Legs

One of my first sketches for Heads Bodies Legs

A dark and rough style, inspired, amongst others, by Kafka’s obsessions, the tradition of black and white illustration from east europe, Poe’s visionary tales, and the art of William Kentridge, took gradually over the soft lines and bittersweet feel of the first drawings.

Black and white sketch for Heads Bodies Legs funding video

Black and white sketch for Heads Bodies Legs funding video

Black and white sketch for Heads Bodies Legs funding video

The first purpose of my sketches was to illustrate a short funding video, but the more the script became complete and complex, the more I wanted to be involved in the actual production of it: I started experimenting with stop motion movies and animations, giving my sketches a time-based dimension that would fit better with a live theatre performance.

Here are some of the first animations:

Director Rachel Malone encouraged me to research different styles, techniques and materials: found images, alterations, abstractions and book art have been added to the work with the aim of finding a consistent yet varied visual commentary to the scenes throughout all the play.

The enthusiastic involvement and great talent of the five actors during the last month of the production allowed me to work on some interactive moments that gave a different dimension and role to the projections.

If you want to know what other people thought about the show, here is a link to a review.

I will soon post more images and work in progress and the official trial of the show; in the meanwhile here are some photos of the rehearsal and the performance:

Heads Bodies Legs: image from the rehearsal with Damien Hughes

Heads Bodies Legs: image from the rehearsal with Will Seaward, Carolin Ott and Eleanor Jones

Heads Bodies Legs: image from the rehearsal with the shadow of Will Seaward

Heads Bodies Legs: still from the performance at The Space with Eleanor Jones, Carolin Ott and Giles Coram

Heads Bodies Legs: still from the performance at The Space with Carolin Ott

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2 comments

  1. I love the bed sketch. Let’s be friends.

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