I’ve always been fascinated by the challenge of performance using non-theatrical spaces; my first major design commission was creating sets and costumes (some of the sketches above) for the late 7:84 founder-playwright John McGrath’s Women and War, with director John Bett in 1992 which was to have been performed in a disused factory in Athens. While I completed the commission, sadly the production was never performed due to financial difficulties in Greece.
Having lived in Greece for many years, I was fortunate to be introduced to the legendary scenographer Dionisis Fotopoulous who offered me a job assisting him, then introduced me to celebrated actress/director/playwright Xenia Kalogeropoulou at Teatro Porta where I recreated set and costumes for the classic children’s show Mormolis, and also worked with Greek theatre before deciding to return to Scotland.
Back in Edinburgh I worked for eight months over the winter of 1993/94 creating an amazing theatre/arts venue for that remarkable Edinburgh fringe doyen Richard Demarco’s art foundation in an old school in York Place, Edinburgh. Demarco always attracted a fascinating cultural cross section of artists including that year, a young Damien Hirst, who created an installation of rats in a cage – live not pickled.
I’ve collaborated on a number of productions with writer/director/actor John Bett, designing set and costumes for his Rob Roy, Wildcat Theatre’s The Jolly Beggars – click for video – and for John Byrne’s satire Writer’s Cramp at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, as well as with others, including designing Night Sky for Stella Quines at Edinburgh’s Theatre Workshop, and Adam and Eve for Faynia Williams at London’s The Gate.
Later I designed the set and costumes (above) for Justin Butcher’s production Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea which had its world premier in Edinburgh in 2009 after a preview in London.
Off stage I’ve undertaken commissions as design consultant for various promotions include at the British Museum, Marks and Spencer, a lemonade brand launch and for Cameron Mackintosh re-creating costumes from the musical Oliver for stilt walkers taking part in the London Christmas Parade.
Production/theatrical tour management
Helping to introduce a young Polish company, Teatr Biuro Podróży, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on their first performance there in 1995, I just knew I must support them on their journey to international recognition. Their outdoor production, Carmen Funebre (Funeral Song), which was developed in 1993-1994, drew on interviews with Bosnian refugees – victims of the Balkan wars and just blew audiences away.
Carmen Funebre became a huge hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, accorded outstanding recognition with a Fringe First and the Critic’s Award in 1995, and the Hamada Prize the following year. The stunning and heart-rending performance was created by founder-director Pawel Szkotak and his team of actors from Poznan. They invited me to become their international manager taking them to their English capital premiere at the City of London Festival in 1996 and onwards on what developed into a 27-country world tour from Tehran to New York – and the Highlands of Scotland!
I went on to introduce a number of other Polish companies at Edinburgh, including Teatr Provisorium/Kompania Teatr from Lublin and the Modjeska Theatre from Legnica, as well as Divadlo Drak from the Czech Republic and Theatre Bazi from Iran.
Eventually I came to realise that the production role was taking over my life along with part time lecturing at the Arts Institute at Bournmouth, when I really wanted to devote myself full time to my own work as an artist. A far more ambitious project in the Middle East beckoned.