Designing Noughts and Crosses

Thursday 11th August 2016

For our summer Youth Theatre, rehearsals begin in earnest on Monday 15 August for Noughts and Crosses. Two intensive weeks to perfect lines, learn cues and get the show off the ground. But behind the scenes, the show’s designer Alice Smith has been already been working away for weeks creating the world we will see on stage.

This is Alice’s first professional job – she only graduated two weeks ago! “I’ve trained for the past three years at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts where I achieved a 1st Class BA Honours in Theatre and Performance Design. Whilst at University I was able to learn and practice in Set, Costume, Props and Puppetry with different theatre companies around the UK, and specialised into Theatre in Education within my Dissertation.”

For her first design job out of university, she’s hit the ground running with an evocative creation for Noughts and Crosses, a play which is based on the acclaimed YA novel by Malorie Blackman. Alice worked closely with the show’s director Nathan to come up with the concept. “Nathan and I both worked collaboratively in order to aid the design of this fast paced and turbulent story. We wanted to create a world that was timeless, adaptable and easily relatable to the audience, as apartheid is still a massive and horrendous thing that is happening and bringing attention to that is both important but also sensitive.”

“Having always been inspired in the artwork of Mark Powell, I was interested to see how we could manipulate the space by using what was available to us on the stage and using that as our set design.” The set will be built on scaffolding covered in brown paper, which will be used in ingenious ways to create different locations.

“For the costumes, it was important to show a clear difference in the hierarchy of the Noughts and Crosses society.”

“For the Noughts, we got ourselves inspired by Yeezy Season 2 (Kanye West’s clothing line) as the earthy and grungy layered vibe felt perfect for the characterisation of the hopelessness, heartbreak and struggle of the McGregor family.”

“Likewise, for the Crosses, we wanted to show the wealth, coldness and loneliness in the Hadley family’s world, so went for steel blues and greys but added a hint of colour to represent their attempts to hide the skeletons in their closet…”

Check out some of Alice’s sketches inspired by her research below.

Alice’s credits, future projects and online portfolio can be found at