Theatre Design Lecturer and NTU alumna designs Miss Saigon stage set for US tour

Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical has consistently swept audiences off their feet around the world, and remains Broadway’s thirteenth longest running show.

Miss Saigon production in action
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Miss Saigon production in action

Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) BA (Hons) Theatre Design Associate Lecturer and alumna Totie Driver first designed the stage set for the Miss Saigon UK tour fifteen years ago under world-renowned producer Cameron Mackintosh.

The production has since been replicated for producers in Japan and Korea, and licenced to other producers around the world. Totie, along with fellow UK-based creative team members, goes to each country each time to set up and hand over the production to local companies.

Totie Driver working on the Miss Saigon set
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Totie Driver working on the Miss Saigon set

Totie told us: “I work closely with local technical teams to design their spaces and facilitate their touring requirements. Sometimes I have to work through a translator, and I need to be respectful towards working practices in different countries.”

This summer, after a successful run on Broadway, the production team set up a US tour, with Totie based in Providence Rhode Island for three weeks, working with a company who would be on the road for two years visiting every major US city.

“My main responsibility is to maintain our very high standards as far as how the set and props look, but I also choreograph the scene changes, and 'break down' the set to maintain the war-torn look of the Vietnam war circa 1975,” Totie commented.

When at NTU, Totie teaches on the technical side of theatre design, helping students develop skills in AutoCAD, Photoshop and SketchUp.

Miss Saigon production in action
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Miss Saigon production in action

She remarked: “I'm very interested in the development of design technology within the professional industry, particularly  the use of 3D AutoCAD, and how these drawings can easily be created and scaled down to 3D print scale models.

“I also work with fantastic award-winning visionary lighting and projection designers who share their knowledge and ideas, keeping me up to date with the latest technology and its use within design practice.”

She continued: “Sharing this professional development in my lectures keeps our students up to date and forward-thinking in an ever-developing and exciting global performance design community.

“As an NTU alumna, I appreciate the importance of work experience and therefore I like to facilitate and apply students’ current and past work into professional practice situations.”

In addition to Miss Saigon, Totie has spent the last 25 years working on numerous stage designs for the National Theatre, RSC, Donmar Warehouse, Complicite, Glyndebourne, and London’s West End. In 2016, Miss Saigon hit the big screen in cinemas across the world, for which Totie won ‘Best Stage Designer” at the WhatsOn Stage Awards.

Theatre Design Lecturer and NTU alumna designs Miss Saigon stage set for US tour

Published on 24 September 2018
  • Subject area: Art and design
  • Category: Current students; School of Art & Design

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