What is design?

The design for a scripted performance should take into account anything that the audience can see or hear. Design ideas need to enhance the performance and support the performers in engaging the audience throughout the play.

There are several designer roles within theatre. These are:

  • set designer - designs and organises the layout of the set and stage
  • costume designer - designs the outfits worn by all characters
  • lighting designer - designs the lighting used throughout the play, including lanterns and additional lighting that may be used on stage, eg lamps, torches or candles
  • sound designer - designs the music and sound effects needed for the performance
  • puppet designer - designs small hand-held puppets through to large-scale puppets that require several people to operate

Apart from sound, these aspects are collectively known as the visuals, as they are the elements that the audience can see. Although they are all planned by designers, during a performance it is actually the technicians who operate the equipment, eg sound control panels or lighting desks.

A sound control panel sits in front of an array of coloured lights, featuring a large screen, several channel sliders and a variety of buttons and dials.
An example sound control panel