MA in Performance Design
Matthew is training to be a Performance Designer at BOVTS. He recently graduated from the University of Malta with a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts. He also spent a year studying Theatre and Drama at the University of Lincoln. Matthew’s artistic repertoire in production design is an array of different works with various established Maltese local companies in a variety of different sectors. His skills range from designing and making sets, costumes, and props to coordinating productions from the artistic side of things.
Previous credits include: Patience (Salesian Theatre), My Fair Lady (Mediterranean Conference Centre), After Medea (Mosta Amphitheatre), Us/Them (Splendid), Hush (Manoel Theatre), Baxx Baxx (Manoel Theatre), Sleeping Beauty the Panto (Manoel Theatre).
BOVTS credits include: The Red Shoes, The Ugly Duckling and Other Stories (Theatre in Education), Picnic at the Hanging Rock (Wardrobe Theatre), Catastrophe Bay the Musical (Bristol Old Vic Theatre).
Deep in the wilds of Cornwall lies the tiny fishing village of Newfrock. The inhabitants are a curious and mischievous gaggle of misfits – a smuggling schoolmistress, the sinful priest, reprobate orphans and singing fishermen – who, despite their differences, abide by a strange patchwork of rituals and beliefs in order to protect the village’s secrets. When newcomer Murdo Moxy – freelance crook and con-artist – enters their midst with his daughter in tow, it sets off a series of events for the townsfolk to grapple with. Inspired by a vast language of British and European folk songs, Catastrophe Bay is as rich and hearty as a night in a candlelit tavern, whilst storms rage outside.
The world of Newfrock is created from the remains of a shipwreck. The set is made up of various pieces of driftwood, ropes, barrels and crates. The costumes are made of things which the villagers of Newfrock would have smuggled from one of their shipwrecks. Working closely with director Derek Bond, we both wanted to create a playing space for the actors where the design could be used in multiple different ways to create various locations.
Photography credit: Craig Fuller
Working with Director Sofia Gallucci, our shared artistic vision for this project was an ensemble led retelling of Niru’s discovery and yearning for liberation from her home, marriage and perhaps most poignantly, her constraints as a woman. Using Gupta’s backdrop of colonised India, we have intended to stylistically draw upon Victorian and Indian influences to create our rustic take on A Doll’s House.
Our final design is a circular 2 story performance space on the Bristol Old Vic main stage, encaged by a traditional Indian trellis which surrounds the space to create a multitude of domestic spaces on stage. The story, told by a small chorus of actor-musician members, narrates and underscores the audience’s movement through Niru’s house, using Gupta’s colorful stage directions.
In an attempt to cure his ailing father’s mental illness by separating “good” from “evil” in the human personality, talented physician Dr. Jekyll inadvertently creates an alternate personality of pure evil, dubbed Mr. Hyde, who wreaks murderous havoc on the city of London. As his fiancée Emma grows increasingly fearful for her betrothed, a prostitute, Lucy, finds herself dangerously involved with both the doctor and his alter ego. Struggling to control Hyde before he takes over for good, Jekyll must race to find a cure for the demon he has created in his own mind.
Staging this musical in Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre allowed us the opportunity to integrate London’s greener into the design. We played around with the idea of having daylight in Act I and then darkness in Act II. This also followed the narrative of the musical since, in the second act the musical becomes darker as we see Hyde’s inner turmoil. The main design inspiration was that of an abandoned film set, where one finds a façade of the buildings but the interior is all fake. This was one of the main themes of the musical, where everyone is hiding behind their own façade.