Staging The Real: Theatre Design Symposium

28 Nov 2018

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00

Cost of entry

Tickets: £55 (senior citizen £40, student/under 18s £15) booking is available on the National Theatre website. Complimentary beverage at the end of the symposium.

*Special PROMO codes with discounts to UAL Staff and Students will be released in this Autumn. Please contact Gabriele Grigorjeva on for more info.*

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Join world leading designers, directors and playwrights, as well as academic experts, for a one-day symposium of talks and workshops considering the construction and representation of the real in theatre and performance.


Developed from initial research into Jocelyn Herbert’s designs for The Wesker Trilogy (1960), Staging the Real will explore historic and contemporary approaches to evoke or present the real or realisms in theatre and performance. From re-evaluating notable realist designs from theatre history to engaging with more recent stagings of the real in verbatim or documentary theatre, this symposium will consider the complex relationship theatre practitioners have in their attempts to access reality and represent social, personal and political actualities on stage.  Staging the Real will consider how realisms and variations of the real have been shaped and staged, as it examines critical and practical questions such as: how do designers, directors and writers approach and collaborate in the creation of the real for performance? What are the challenges or parameters for practitioners in constructing and visualising the real or realism?  And, to what extent can the theatre form or reframe the social and personal experiences of realities in performance?

As well as attending the symposium, participants will have the opportunity to explore Jocelyn Herbert’s designs with an archive handling session and a guided tour of the Playing with Scale exhibition.


Professor Arnold Aronson, Columbia University

Alex Eales, Designer and alumnus of Wimbledon College of Arts

Roy Williams, Playwright

Convened by Dr Matthew McFrederick (Jocelyn Herbert Post-doctoral Fellow), Professor Jane Collins (Wimbledon College of Arts) and Professor Eileen Hogan (Wimbledon College of Arts).

Staging the Real is part of the Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Graduate School Public Programme 2018-19, and is organised in collaboration with the Jocelyn Herbert Archive, the National Theatre Archive and the National Theatre Learning Department.


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