Tom: Thanks for talking to me today! It’s really lovely to virtually meet you both. I wanted to start by giving you both a chance to introduce yourselves, your name, pronouns and what your role is in ‘Blood Brothers (Play Version)’.
Cat: I’m Cat Salvini, my pronouns are she/her, and I am the set designer.
Izzie: And I’m Izzie, my pronouns are she/her, and I’m the technical director.
T: Brilliant! So, I just wanted to start off by asking if you could describe to me the overall vibe of the play and this particular production and how is the set going to be reflecting that?
C: So, in terms of the design process I began by working from the themes of industrialism because the play is set in Liverpool, which is quite heavily characterised by the docks, red brick tenement housing; and the surrounding areas were characterised by mining, so it’s a very industrial area. Blood Brothers (Play Version) is about a conflict between both family and friends, between classes particularly, and in this production, the focus is on racial conflict. I like the idea of abstract set design, of things not being a literal interpretation but rather giving you the idea of something being a room, and mixing things up so that you get the juxtaposition of things that are broken, beside things that are brand new. We’ve got a sort of red-brown colour palette for the set, and, instead of back cloth, we’re building bridges, to create this visual metaphor of bridging the gap.
T: That sounds really amazing, and I’m really excited to see where all that takes you. I’m just wondering, Izzie, from your point of view, what’s it been like pulling together these ideas?
I: It’s been really exciting to be honest – it’s definitely been a challenging set, but I found that, as Cat was saying, the traditional set is very static and well-specified in the original script: there’s a very clear description of exactly what the set should be, and Cat has really turned that on its head. Obviously, my job is often to deal with the nitty-gritty of how we actually make it happen and how, technically, that’s going to work, but having this bigger picture of this really exciting.
T: Absolutely! And my next question was going to be, kind of, how has being a Week 1 show been with in terms of the production schedule? Have you had any challenges? How’ve you found that?
I: I like to do Week 1 shows because it just gives me so much more time to build. I have quite an intensive course, and that’s not really very conducive to spending every hour in the ADC workshop.You have to know what you’re doing before you get to Cambridge and start the ball rolling on some of these things. Things do happen very fast.
C: We’ve bought nothing new, it’s all second-hand furniture. Basically, the producer let us hire a van, so in the past 48 hours, I’ve been driving a 3-seater van around Cambridge and the surrounding areas. I’ve clocked up 312 miles of driving, spent £45.67 on diesel, done 32 turn in the roads, and my worst turn in the road took 9 swings.
We all laughed.
C: A couple of the pieces are being kept by ADC Management and becoming Set Store. We’ve got a really lovely mahogany fireplace surround, which we don’t have an equivalent of in the set store. Also, the Week 2 Mainshow wanted lots of furniture that they could paint, and the Week 3 Mainshow, RENT, also wants chairs. So some of the chairs from our show are staying until week 3, so that’s all exciting!
At this point, in typical ADC fashion, Cat was interrupted by Management and a cast member willing to help with painting.
T: That’s so brilliant! Especially with ADC Mains, I think so much can be put into creating everything from scratch every single week, and I think you’re completely right with the sustainability of that – well it’s just not, it’s just not sustainable at all. I think that’s really awesome! Anyway – that’s just me. So just one last question, what’s been your favourite part of making the set so far, or of pulling it all together?
C: I feel it should be the driving the van, but actually – So, I’ve learned how to paint bricks and it’s really satisfying because you get a lot of old colours of paint that are sort of reddish, you pour them into the paint tray and you get your roller and you just roller them, and some of it blends and some of it doesn’t blend and it looks really really bricky. It’s just really satisfying!
T: That’s brilliant! And what about you, Izzie?
I: I think from an overarching perspective, I’ve really loved working on a show with such an original set. It feels really different to so many of the shows that I built or worked on before. I think on the day-to-day aspects of it, Cat is getting me to join together some pieces of furniture in some fun funky-fresh kind of ways and that has been really really cool – a bit scary trying to make it happen safely, but really satisfying when completed.
C: Eduardo’s given me a ‘25 Things’ rule, but Eduardo didn’t define what a ‘thing’ was, so we’re having some fun pushing the limits of what’s defined as a single ‘thing’. My catch line for the show has been ‘Chairs can’t fly, can they?’, and the directors want some level of mystery, so take that as you will!
T: I’m really excited to see it all come together, thank you so much!
C: Thank you!
I: It’s been really lovely chatting to you!
‘Blood Brothers (Play Version)’ by Willy Russell is on at the ADC Theatre from Tuesday the 25th of January until Saturday the 29th. Book tickets here: https://www.adctheatre.com/whats-on/play/blood-brothers-play-version/