A closer look at the Peter Pan set

As a follow up to learning more about the Peter Pan costumes, the National Theatre talks to the Set Designer, Michael Vale.

ThePeter Pan set. Photo by Michael Vale.

What made you want to become a set designer?

I studied English at school, not art, so I became interested at first in the content of the plays. I only became really interested in their staged form while studying architecture at Nottingham University.

Where did your initial inspiration come from for the set of Peter Pan?

When myself and Sally began to discuss what Peter Pan could look like, we were both interested in the games and imagined worlds (often aping grown ups) which children create when left alone to play in the streets. I found a book of photographs of children playing in the run down streets and waste grounds of New York called Street Play. It inspired us both.

ThePeter Pan model box. Photo by Michael Vale.

What is your favourite aspect of designing the set?

The first stab at producing a scale 3D model from the initial rough 2D sketches made in response to the play or story.

What materials do you use to create model boxes?

The basics: cardboard, wood, plastic, glue and paint.

Close-ups of parts of the Peter Panset. Photos by Michael Vale.

What is your process for collating together ideas? Do you use sketches? Photography? Collect objects?

There is no fixed structure for this process and it is a combination of all these things. It really is all about hunting down something visual which in any way help you to express your thoughts about the play or story.

ThePeter Pan set. Photo by Michael Vale.

What has been the most memorable moment in your career?

Buying Samuel Beckett a half a pint of Guinness.

Finally, how would you describe Peter Pan in three words?

Damn good fun.

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