7 November 2019 / Events

Creating Theatrical Magic: 50 Years of Designing Theatres

Creating Theatrical Magic: 50 Years of Designing Theatres

Delivered by Nick Thompson and Clare Ferraby

NB Booking is only necessary if you wish to tell us about particular needs, eg accessibility concerns. There is an opportunity to do this at the checkout.

Nick Thompson and his wife Clare Ferraby have worked together for over 50 years on more than 100 widely ranging interior design projects for the Performing Arts; more than anyone since Frank Matcham.

The challenge of reinventing historic theatres such as the Old Vic, London Coliseum and Victoria Palace for new audiences will be assessed against the aspirations of today’s directors in new venues.



Nick Thompson trained as an architect and joined a new practice in 1961, which became Renton Howard Wood Levin Architects (RHWL). The design of school halls and their role in children’s development led to selection as project architect for the innovative Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, opening in 1971.

Subsequent commissions for about 100 Arts projects centred mainly around London and the North, and were for both new buildings and refurbishments.

The projects covered the huge spectrum of Buildings for the Arts, from intimate small-scale spaces through to those specifically for drama, meeting the particular needs for opera and dance, large-scale musicals, radio and tv, the complex design of multi-function spaces, and the challenge of major concert halls.

He formed the Arts Team as a separate studio within RHWL to develop his particular design approach to projects in the UK and around the world.

Clare Ferraby followed her degrees in Painting at Sheffield (undergraduate) and Textiles in Manchester (postgraduate) with Fellowships, enabling her to travel in Scandinavia and work in textile studios in Paris and Germany. On return, she set up Clare Ferraby Designs in London.

The Crucible provided the introduction to theatre interiors, from which she built up a reputation for the creative and innovative use of colour and materials. Her interest in historical research coupled with the support of the Arts Council led to renovation projects for major regional theatres.

Cameron Mackintosh was aware of this work, and she became Design Consultant for all of his theatres. Her responsibility is for all aspects that the public sees: decoration, colour, textiles, lighting, graphics and even uniforms. Her recent work at the Victoria Palace continues this special relationship.

She was awarded last year’s “Unsung Hero” award by the The Stage newspaper for her achievements over the past 50 years.


7 November 2019


19:30 - 21:30


St Anne's Soho, Dean Street, London, UK

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