Day 17: Director-Designer communications and the Language of Design

by Tobi Mattingly | Aug 7, 2016

When it comes to design, there are two angles to examine in thinking about the Language of the Stage. First there is the communication between director and designer. And second is the language of design itself. The article we’re sharing today explores both.

Recently published in American Theatre Magazine, At Catapult Studios, Design Comes First takes an in-depth look at a unique physical space that houses several collaborating theatremakers, and how the directors and designers in this space approach each other and work together to incorporate design much earlier in the process than usual.

Set designer and visual artist Jeff Becker is one of the designers working at Catapult Studios, and the AT article explores a recent project he designed and how the new collaborative workspace led to its success.

“A lot of companies don’t bring the design world into the work early enough—not because they don’t want to but because the space and time aren’t set up for that,” Becker elaborates. “It’s important to me as a designer, director, and visual artist that the design of a show has the same weight as text, that design is brought in at the get-go. For me, the space in which a show happens is a character—it needs to live and grow and unfold in the same way a character does.”

Tobi Mattingly is a Chicago-based director, actor, music director, and teaching artist. She is the founder of Artistic Conspiracy, an arts organization dedicated to creating and enabling world-changing theatre. Through this organization, she helps professional theatremakers take control of their theatre careers through learning and balancing artistic craft, bodymind practices, and business/marketing management.