Hello my name is Kenneth and I am the set and costume designer for Oor Wullie - my role is to look after the visuals of the show, making sure that the story is supported through what the audience sees. Put simply - I put things in a space that mean something and help audiences feel something.
I started working on Oor Wullie in April 2019, beginning to talk with all of the various venues that Wullie would be touring to, and trying to work out what kind of design could effectively fill these hugely different spaces. Around this same time, song-and-scriptwring duo Noisemaker where beginning to finish their first drafts of the script, and director Andrew and I were beginning to sit down and work out what sort of show Oor Wullie needed to be.
Re-introducing such a beloved Scottish character to new and old fans alike was not as easy task - we had to deal with audience expectation of what they believe Oor Wullie to be. We had to ask ourselves questions like can a black and white comic work in black and white on stage? How can you translate hand drawn clothes to functional costumes? And how exactly does one magically jump into a comic book annual..?
A stage designers process largely follows that of an architect. Various models of varying finishes are made in order to work with the carpenters and production managers and directors to visualise how the story might unfold in a space and how it can be built and toured. Drawings and computer models are also made. I also begin to work with a Head of Wardrobe to work out what fabrics are going to work for what pieces of clothing, and what might be bought, and what might have to be made.
Rehearsals are largely about putting all the ideas into action - actors try on prototypes of their final costume, and mock-ups of set pieces are assembled to play with in the rehearsal room. Eventually, it all comes together in technical rehearsals, where the final set, beautifully made and painted by the Dundee Rep workshops, is assembled and lit by the lighting designer. This point is all about the final tweaks and making sure it all works cohesively.
It’s been a real joy creating something that the whole of Scotland can enjoy, but especially a show that is going to the mainstage at Eden Court.
When at primary and high school in Inverness, I did most of Eden Court Creatives brilliant workshops and classes, gaining my LAMDA award and Higher Drama in the process, and sitting on the Young Questors youth advisory board. Those early years for me were mad, fun, and insanely important in forming my passion for performance & production, and long lasting friendships, both personal and professional.
Taking a show I’ve designed to the Empire Stage feels like a culmination of everything I’ve learnt from those early days at Eden Court, up to this point. I hope Wullie brings as much joy and laughter to Inverness as he has to the rest of Scotland!
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