The Curious Incident Design Challenge links up the UK

Via a live web chat, over 50 students from partner colleges across the country gained advice from the National Theatre creative team for their Curious Incident Design Challenge entries.

Colleges in our Skills Academy education network got their design questions answered by the original creative team of the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-Time.

My students were buzzing. It was great to feed in questions and have them answered live.

This hugely informative web chat, which took place on 21 April, was part of a Design Challenge set back in January, based on the set, costume, lighting and project potential of mounting the Mark Haddon book onstage.

The aim of the web chat was to give students a chance to dig into the questions they had around the Design Challenge.

From the National Theatre to UK classrooms 

The team at the National Theatre’s new Clore Learning Centre linked to classrooms at our particpating partner colleges, which were spread right across the UK:

  • Amersham & Wycombe
  • Cardiff & Vale
  • City of Wolverhampton
  • Fife
  • Glasgow Kelvin
  • Rotherham
  • Stratford-Upon-Avon College.

Over 50 students from across Art & Design, Music Technology and Production Arts were able to hear how the team worked with Director Marianne Elliott and Writer Simon Stephens to create the multi-media production.

"It's like playing a relay race but we all end up finishing together," said Lighting designer Paule on Twitter about the collaboration #CuriousDesignChallenge

Opening up backstage roles to students

The Design Challenge was created by the National Theatre’s Learning Department, who are keen to connect with Further Education and schools as the tour crosses the country, giving access to the roles and processes that are often hidden in the dark of a live performance.

A Production Arts tutor at Rotherham College, Emma said: "my students were buzzing afterwards. It was great to be able to feed in questions during the session and have them answered live.” 

Bunny Christie (Designer), Paule Constable (Lighting Designer) and Ian Dickinson (Sound Designer) were able to respond to student questions around, for example:

  • working in collaboration
  • mounting a production in different spaces
  • conceiving a design that gives the audience the protagonist’s point of view.

"We want people to experience things as Christopher does, either that's overwhelming and sped-up, or calm and slow" #CuriousDesignChallenge

It was interesting to hear from Bunny Christie that there are no formal costume designs, but that "most items were taken directly from the book". 

"There's a million different ways you could design Curious. The beauty of plays is you can return to them again and again" #CuriousDesignChallenge

Notes to our education partners: the final entry point for submissions to the Design Challenge will be 20 November 2015.

If you would like to include your students please get more information from the National Theatre website and email programmes@ccskills.org.uk to gain the project pack.