Rhiannon Newman Brown talks about life as a freelance Theatre Designer, Producer and Art Director.
How did you get your job?
I’m a freelance Theatre Designer, Producer and Art Director. I have built up 10 years of experience and contacts enabling me now to thrive as a freelancer. I have always tried to take jobs which really interest me, be it the story, the company or the type of production, each project has to build on the last and develop my CV. It is hard work so if you are not really interested in a project or know why you are doing it, it is very hard to achieve it.
From way back when I took my A-levels I knew I wanted to do something arty for a living but was not sure what. I chose a history of art degree because I thought it would give me a solid, broad base from which I could specialise once I had figured out what I was going to do. Then while at university I did work experience with an interior design company to see if that was for me and I also got involved in the stage musical company at university. It turned out that theatre was the thing for me, and when I left university I got a job as an assistant stage manager for an opera company so that I could learn more about how a theatre worked and all the roles. I then applied for and did a 1-year postgraduate course (using my mostly unspent student loan to fund it) in theatre design. Following that year I worked on as many projects as I could, often small scale and not very well paid, but I built up quickly a good network of contacts and a number of directors with whom I worked repeatedly.
How relevant is your degree to your job and how do you use your degree within your job?
My degree is still very relevant to my work. Part of my degree was about the theory of aesthetics and how people interact with an art work. This theory is something I apply to every visual output I create, and it also applies to any audience experience of a production of many different kinds. I also have a great collection of books that I built up during my degree which I use regularly.
What are your main work activities?
When designing a show I spend slot of time researching ideas and the context of the piece. I spend time drawing and model making as well as consulting on how the sets are built and costumes made. When production managing and producing there is a lot of emphasis on budgets and schedules and lots of meetings with the various different parties involved in the production.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Juggling many projects at the same time and diary management to fit it all in, giving me enough space to be creative.
Career highlights and best moments?
London 2012 ceremonies as a props Production Manager. Opening ceremony being on the field of play as part of such a massive show. The opening of Secret Cinema presents Back to the Future, a huge outdoor production that I produced.
Where do you want to be in 5 years time ?
Have my own successful creative consultancy and production company.