Motley Theatre Design Course
Motley Theatre Design Course
The Motley Theatre Design Course is an intensive one year course, directed by Alison Chitty with course tutors Anthony Lamble and Ashley Martin -Davis, administrated by Catrin Martin. It runs annually from September to July with breaks at Christmas and Easter.

The Course caters for students of postgraduate level who wish to specialise in theatre design. The majority of successful applicants will have an art school, academic or theatre background. We are always interested in applicants from other disciplines but they must be able to express themselves visually. We look of course for talent, but take great account of temperament and attitude and an ability to work both independently and as a member of a group.

The Course has been recognised nationally and internationally for the quality of its graduates since its inception in 1966. The teaching is based on a philosophy of respect for the text and the performer and a belief in the integrity of the performance and design. Students are encouraged to develop skills which combine practicality and imagination.

Over the years the Motley Theatre Design Course has provided the theatre, film and television industries with many talented designers and technicians including: Paul Brown, Alexandra Byrne, Tom Cairns, Frank Conway, Kandis Cook, Es Devlin, Hayden Griffin, Penny Hadrill, Jeremy Herbert, Gemma Jackson, Anthony McDonald, David Short, Ultz, Brien Vahey, Neil Warmington.

Led by Alison Chitty, the instructors on the Course are all practising professionals. Recent visiting directors and designers have included: Danny Boyle, Tom Cairns, Bob Crowley, Bill Dudley, Richard Eyre, Bill Gaskill, Peter Gill, David Gothard, Vicky Hallam, David Hare, Jane Howell, Nick Hytner, Mike Leigh, Vicky Mortimer and Simon Usher. Regular Staff include: John Burgess, Ann Curtis, Gary Thorne, Anthony Waterman and Tim Wright.

the training:

Work on the Course is project based. Five or six projects are covered each year, four or five of which are plays and one is always an opera. Every project is led by a different professional director and focuses on the development and presentation of designs for scenery and costumes.

Students are encouraged not to accept the easy and conventional solution but through rigorous research develop their own interpretation. At the end of each project experienced professionals are invited to review the work. Each student presents their model and costume drawings to the group, the project director and the regular staff, which gives plenty of opportunity for informal discussion and assessment. Parallel with the major projects are regular classes in:

  • The history and cut of period costume
  • Character and costume drawing
  • The history of theatre
  • Observational and life drawing
  • Model making and technical drawing

There are additional short intensive courses in:

  • Textile printing and dyeing
  • Scenic painting
  • Lighting
  • Mask-making

Informal discussion and regular theatre and exhibition visits form an important part of the programme. Occasional sessions provide a further practical introduction to working in the profession - The Horse's Mouth is a forum for discussion with a wide range of theatre and theatre-related professionals from performers to accountants, production managers to costume supervisors and agents to union representatives. Every opportunity is taken to give each student the chance to design a small production in collaboration with a drama or opera school, TIE or fringe company.

The school would like to thank Lord Lloyd Webber, Really Useful Theatres and The Mia Trust for their generous support.

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