Staging Ideas – set and costume design for theatre

Staging Ideas_edStephen Curtis is considered one of Australia’s most respected and admired designers. In this practical and informative book, he outlines everything you need to know about set, costume and lighting design; taking you from initial concept, script analysis and research ideas to putting it all together.

Staging Ideas is structured in several layers with the main chapters covering the key steps in the design process. Each chapter includes a case study – the Queensland Theatre Company’s production of Pygmalion, which Curtis designed the sets and costumes, for giving practical working samples relating to each step in the process.

“In this book I aim to shine a bright light on our process,” says Curtis. “I have set out to create a kind of working guide to the steps in the process, investigating how we begin, methods of interpretation, research, visual communication, and on to the final processes of realising the design – not as a template for creativity but as a structure within which to experiment to find our own individual way of working.”

Not only an in-depth reference for students and young designers just starting their journey, Curtis has also set out to engage his peers with discussion of some of the more complex factors that form the very basis of our work as theatre-makers.

These ‘Further Thinking’ subjects include Collaboration and the Creative Team; the Director – Designer Partnership; Developing a Visual Language; The Actor – Audience Relationship, The Design Toolbox; the Performer – Designer Relationship; Theatre Spaces and How They Shape Performance; and Designing Sustainability.

Demonstrating that there are many different ways to approaching the design process, Staging Ideas contains the work of nearly 30 of Australia’s leading costume and set designers and includes never-seen-before concept development roughs and sketch designs, including The Secret River, The Book of Everything, Blood Vessel, The Season at Sarsaparilla, Romeo and Juliet and Diary of a Madman.

Stephen Curtis has worked extensively as an Australian designer for drama, film, opera, dance and exhibition. As a production designer he has collaborated with many of Australia’s leading companies and festivals including Bell Shakespeare, Company B Belvoir, Melbourne Theatre Company, Opera Australia, Perth Festival, Queensland Theatre Company, Sydney Festival and Windmill Performing Arts, just to name a few.

Stephen’s film credits include Looking for Alibrandi, Twelfth Night, Breathing Underwater, Bedevil and Night Cries. Stephen was awarded the Helpmann Award for Best Costume Design for Der Ring de Nibelungen and the Green Room Award for Best Design for Lulu.

Staging Ideas – set and costume design for theatre is published by Currency Press. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Staging Ideas book cover