Please note that each project contains a detailed reflection under its respective “Outcome” tab.   

    Throughout my unit 9, I have developped my practice as a set & costume designer for theatre, dance, opera, and spatial design. Across my final year on PDP and at CSM, I took part in projects that would teach me about new genres or performance, push my collaborative processes, and teach me about the future hybrid world of live & digital performance making. 

    When thinking back about my journey throughout this year, I would like to highlight how doing small projects throughout the first two terms enhanced my practice. When I started this year, I was still in a process of re-discovering what exactly my practice was because of how much the performance-making industry had shifted due to COVID. I was bascially starting from scratch, which is why I sought out so many learning opportunities: external lectures/workshops, projects that would teach me technical skills, as well as finding new collaborators. On another note, while I had always described myself as a set designer, or an aspiring on at least, since beginning the course, costume designing was a completely new practice that I decided to expand on this year.

   In hindsight, the smaller projects I did this year were about learning new skills that would inform my final major project which was CSM Alive. For example: 

  • The Collective showed me the potential of multi-media design in COVID and post-COVID performance making. It was also a major project in terms of technical skills because it introduced me to the Isadora software, which I ended up using for the projection mapping and programming in CSM Alive. 
  • Object Narratives helped me to begin thinking about my work through a camera lens. In this project, I also learned how to balance being the designer & the maker. And together with The Collective (since they happened at the same time), how to think about narrative when not working from text-based performance. 
  • The Abu Ghraib Project taught me how the designer could be the lead artist when devising a performance. Since I worked on that project independently, and it was so fast-paced, I learned essential organisational skills in how to self-produce an outcome. 
  • The Opera Design Project taught me skills especially about costume design. For example, how to illustrate costumes for the purpose of making & costume interpretation.Additionally it taught me how the design could single-handedly lead the dramaturgy. 

   Ultimately, by carrying aspects of the aforementioned projects into the development of CSM Alive, I was also actively informing my working methodologies and personal practice. I would consider all the projects, and especially CSM Alive to be personal achievements and successful projects because I found myself falling into the start of a rythm for my future practice as a set & costume designer. The most significant factors being:

  • seeing myself as the visual dramaturg
  • using multi-media design to merge physical & digital performance
  • collaborative design-led devising to drive performance making

Moreoever, I learned vital technical skills that will be critical to the start of my career as I seek to become an assistant designer. For example, I have improved my model-making skills throughout the Object Narratives project, my digital modelling & technical drawings skills during the Opera Project, and my video editing & Isadora programming skills during The Collective. I have also become more confident in my costume drawing and costume making skills throughout CSM Alive. And finally, I feel prepared to design my own shows as an early-career designer because of the budgetting and management skills I improved on in the Opera Project & CSM Alive. 


© Jida Akil 2024