Designing a production

Design has a huge impact on an audience’s experience of a play as it’s the first thing they see when the stage is revealed to them. The design provides essential information such as setting, period and the type of production you’re seeing. There are a range of roles within theatre design which can cross over. There may be a team of designers working on a large scale production whilst smaller productions might only have one designer who works closely with the director. It's also important to consider the type of stage being used when deciding on set design. Look at Using the space to learn more about the different type of theatre stages.

Production design

The production designer works closely with the director to establish a shared vision for the piece and then they are responsible for every area of design. This is a very creative role and can also encompass other areas of design, such as film and multimedia. The production designer might hire specialists to work with them such as a set designer or a lighting technician. But they usually have overall responsibility over the following elements:

  • set and props
  • lighting
  • music
  • sound
  • costume

Set and the set designer

Set designers usually take responsibility for props too. Their role involves making decisions about everything in and around the acting space, such as furniture, raised platforms or playing areas, entrances and exits, and the shape of the space itself. If the production has painted scenery the set designer may work with a scenic designer, who designs and paints scenery for the back or sides of the stage. Sometimes the two roles are combined.