Ahead of The Trap, a biting new comedy set in a pay day lending company, opening next week, Omnibus Theatre talks to Linbury prize-winning designer Sarah Beaton about creating The Trap’s world on stage.
How did you first get interested in theatre design?
Art, english and drama were my favourite subjects at school. I was happiest in the drama room making plays with my classmates; often writing, directing and designing them whilst choosing the music, and operating the lighting board! I became extremely interested in the behind the scenes/creative side rather than being on the stage itself.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I love working with new people and creating worlds for stories to be told in. Having ownership over how an audience physically views the narrative is a really special opportunity to connect with strangers and offer an exciting experience. Creatively, I am richer with every new project I work on. I learn not only more about the subject matter of the piece but also how to communicate with others more sympathetically, succinctly and successfully.
Do you have a design style and how has this influenced this project?
I am very instinctual in my response to a new piece of work. I have a feeling about a show; the atmosphere, what the air that is surrounding this world is and then go about filling in the gaps. Is it a literal world? Is it more metaphorical? How does this world function? The Trap felt very real, erring on hyper-real. Stained carpet tiles, drooping plants, filing cabinets, desks and strip lights – all worn and very much lived-in to mirror the depressing burden of debt.
What was the process for designing this set?
Dan Ayling, the director, and I wanted to make the office as dynamic as possible. We wanted to re-configure the performance space so that the actors were literally trapped – having three banks of audience and a door at one end to enclose the action. As the budget was limited, it was really important that the objects we did bring into the space provided the character of a payday loan company’s premises but also function in driving the story forward. We knew that the safe with the money, the alarm panel and the door all had to be present in order to tell the story.
What has been the greatest challenge with designing The Trap?
Working to a small budget with a small production team. Scouring Gumtree, old offices, freecycle etc for the best price is often a disheartening task but when the right item for a good price comes up… it is like winning the lottery (I’m imagining, obviously. I have never actually bought a lottery ticket myself!)
What play would you love to design, other than this one, obviously!
Probably one that someone is writing as this is being read. I love new writing and being the first person to explore how a piece might be presented. Plays reflecting current concerns and circumstances appeal to me the most. If I was to design a pre-existing play, one I haven’t yet designed, it would be The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. It is painfully fragile, yet hard; seeped in metaphor.
The Trap will run from 31st October – 19 November. Buy tickets here