Inside the National Theatre at the moment is a large exhibition about the art of designing stage sets for theatre plays, showing off ideas from award-winning designers.

Twelve theatre stage designs are here, all by recipients of this year’s Linbury Prize for Stage Design, each of whom is awarded £5,000 and a placement with an established industry designer or producing organisation.

Dotted around the brutalist theatre are everything from sketches to photos to scale models and entire costumes, including a very scary looking Kala Pani costume

There’s almost too much to take in, which is an odd comment to make about a free exhibition, but genuinely, if you read everything, you’re going to be here for some time, as there’s a lot of detail on show explaining the thinking behind the stage designs that won awards.

With so much focus in theatres on the actors, the script and the costumes, the stage sets are sometimes overlooked, but apart from their aesthetic appearance, they have to be functional as well. They need to be capable of hosting a performance through all its elements so there’s a combination of engineering, artistry and collaboration required to deliver a set design that works for everyone.

As a collection, the range is varied, offering insights into this important aspect of putting on a production in the theatre.

The exhibition is in the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Lounge (1st floor) and is free to visit until 30th March 2024.

It’s open all day Mon-Sat, closed on Sundays.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Ania Levy (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
  • Bethan Wall (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
  • Biz Sutton (Edinburgh College of Art)
  • Finlay Jenner (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts)
  • Jodie Yates (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
  • Nitin Parmar (London College of Fashion UAL)
  • Ola Klos (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
  • Peiyao Wang (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)
  • Tallulah Caskey (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts)
  • Tiffany Fraser Steele (London College of Fashion UAL)
  • Yijing Chen (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)
  • Yimei Zhao (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama).

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