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Lara Booth is a costume and set designer with an interest in both period and contemporary adaptations for story telling. Through her design practice she aims to explore space and create environments and costumes that will serve the actors and the text as well as bringing an immersive experience to the audience. Each work is unique and comes with its own set of challenges, whereby the design should enhance the production but not overtake the integrity of the story telling, it is one element of a whole collaborative process that is needed to create progressive theatre.
After graduating from Edinburgh Collage of Art with a degree in Performance Costume Design (2003) Lara gained one of 4 places on the Post Graduate Stage Design Course at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduating with Distinction and winning the John Elvery Prize for Design (2004). On leaving education Lara set up her own freelance design practice establishing a varied professional portfolio of set and costume designs for the stage. She has designed for theatres across the UK including Bristol Old Vic, London’s Arcola and Southwark Playhouse, Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum and Manchester’s Library Theatre. Most recently she has designed stage set and costumes for her first Operatic production at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.
As a child Lara was drawn to books that provoked the imagination to explore characters and fantastic worlds such as the writings of Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis and Mary Norton. This passion soon developed into a strong ambition to create or design characters and tell stories visually. Theatre then, with its possibilities for exploring and expressing immersive story telling, for Lara provides a place where the imagination can run riot and magic can happen.
Lara’s educational practice at the University of Huddersfield (since 2009) includes lecturing in design and illustration on the BA Costume Design with Textiles. Teaching has been a natural expansion to her design career and it is hoped that through the combination of a passion for her subject area and continued links and a practice within industry she is able to provide an insightful and inspiring education for her students.
Research objectives will change dependent on the requirements of each individual design brief. Lara is passionate about story telling for classical texts or devised touring shows, enacted on Proscenium arch stages or in intimate studio environments formed as round or traverse stage.
Lara’s constant objectives are to respond to a performance space in an original way that will explicitly support and push the action of the performers and convey a clear visual environment to an audience. She enjoys provoking and interacting with the challenges of a text, Identifying a symbolic language that when applied to a performance space enables the actors to transcend a number of set locations with ease. In the discovery that a wooden box can become a park bench, a bookcase in a shop, the front seat of a car, an office desk or a hilltop, we are taking the audience on a journey - guiding them on a journey of the imagination.
Most recently Lara has developed a piece for a touring show that demands the creation of 10 different locations travelling through a 100 year period, with the obligations of: the sets and costumes have to fit in the back of a small van and each actor requires a number of costume/character changes without the performer ever leaving the stage. The solutions to such problems provide a context where theatrical magic can happen.
Lara has been developing designs for opera aiming at appealing to a more contemporary audience whilst maintaining a balance within the design that will still appeal to the traditional opera crowd. To achieve this she has combined historical shapes, patterns and details with contemporary materials and carefully considered colour palettes in order to inject a playful edge to what otherwise might be considered a ‘stuffy’ historical environment.
Lara selects a range of current and classic texts to explore and breakdown in the university studio, and she engages students in industry practices such as script read-throughs and group design presentations. Students are encouraged to develop original identities and drawing styles within their design portfolios to take forward into this highly competitive industry. Lara works with this new generation of designers towards choreographing a live performance presentation of final costumes for the graduate degree show, this year (2012) taking place in the Laurence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield.
Booth, L (2011) The Resonance of Seclusion. Stage Set and Costume Design [Performance] In: UNSPECIFIED,
Lara is a member of the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).