Bunny Christie is the multi-award winning Production Designer currently working on the stunning Julius Caesar at The Bridge Theatre. Not only is she a genius with light and using space in unexpected ways, her set designs reveal an inner look at the mind of the characters who inhabit them.
The shows you've seen her work in include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and more recently People, Places and Things, Ink and Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle.
Bunny is an Olivier, Tony and Evening Standard Award-winning Designer, whose experience and advice is valuable to any creative person looking to build their career. To find out more about Bunny and how she works, we had 7 quick questions for her.
1. You studied at Central Saint Martin’s - are there any specific lessons you learned there that you feel are still essential to how you work now?First, you have to read the piece really carefully and note down who is in each scene, location of each scene, what happens, what time of day, the atmosphere, design features or special effects! Also, be sure to make a note of any of your immediate thoughts or ideas, even random crazy first ideas. Being on time and listening closely to Directors and Actors is very important!
2. Outside of studying, what advice would you give a budding Production Designer to help reach their goals?Be tenacious, stick at it. Get up in the morning and go back to the work, even when it feels like all your ideas aren't working. Try and see lots of other work, not just theatre but also films and exhibitions. Don't feel like you always have to know how to make your idea happen - it's important to dream up the ideas and then rely on the help of other skilled collaborators to create something.
3. People often feel that when they're at the theatre, they can escape into another world - is it fair to say that a Designer might think in terms of worlds instead of stages?Yes, I guess so. What I'm searching for is the feeling and atmosphere in a piece of writing. That’s the fun bit - trying to suss out the world that we are in and bouncing ideas around with the Director.
4. When you are ready to begin designing, do you always have the same starting point as each project or is it varied?I try to have very focused time reading and making notes on the script. Then I will collect images and ideas and do small sketches and scribbles of ideas in my sketch book. Often, I will research the world or subject or period of the play and sometimes I will read the play aloud to myself. Photo Credit: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
5. How has working at The Bridge been different from more traditional theatres?Part of my design was making a new seating bank so we could complete the effect of the audience sitting all around the staging area. We knew we wanted to use the space in the round and the theatre has been designed to be flexible, which of course traditional theatres aren’t. It’s great to be testing that capability on only the second show in the space.
6. What inspired the layout and what do you feel it brings over a traditional staging?We wanted the audience to feel part of the show. So much of Julius Caesar involves the public, the crowd, the people, so it feels good to let our audience be onstage and right in amongst the characters. There isn’t a divide between audience and actors - the story is happening all around us and the audience can get right up close to the action.
7. What can audiences expect from the staging of the upcoming Julius Caesar at The Bridge?It's going to be fast moving, loud, exciting and fun!
See Bunny's work and experience being a citizen of Rome with tickets to Julius Caesar, playing at the Bridge Theatre.
Want more? A Brief Guide To: Harold Pinter.