Design for Contemporary Drama An interview with Director Mehdi Razi

In this interview Mehdi gives an overview of his career to date and shares his experience as part of Fio’s Arise Wales Creatives programme for Emerging Directors at RWCMD.

Director Mehdi Razi in front of the model box and designs by Kathryn Brown of Brown Boys Swim by Karim Khan

Hi I am originally from a Shiraz in Iran I first came to Wales in 2015 for a Masters in Product Design at Cardiff Met. During my time as a student I found Cardiff to be a very welcoming city. After completing the Masters I worked for two years in the Design Industry, based in Splott.

I was always interested in the performing arts and after moving to Wales a few things changed in my life, offering the opportunity to focus on the performing arts as a career. Initially I  started ushering and volunteering through Sherman 5 at the Sherman Theatre and National Dance Company Wales on the Dance for Parkinson’s programme

Volunteering helped give me an insight into the possibilities of different areas I could work in the arts. This alongside shadowing and then later assisting on performances gave me an option to see things in detail and how I could invest in these areas as a career.

I developed my experience as a Producer about 5 years ago with WNO on a placement and shadowing on productions. I produced an R and D project called Beyond the Rainbow with Oasis (who support Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and the Refugee Council for Wales, this resulted in an informal sharing at the Wales Millennium Centre.

I then started on small assisting roles with the company and also enjoyed working as an emerging producer for Theatr Clwyd. During lockdown I worked on some projects of my own with support from ACW

Thankfully as Lockdown eased, work opportunities opened up and I assisted Joe Murphy as trainee Assistant Director on Christmas Carol in 2021 at The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.

The Design for Contemporary Drama Exhibtion at RWCMD

Then in in April 2021 I signed up for Fios, ARISE – Wales Creatives programme for Emerging Directors. At the start of the project we all met with Patrick Connellan and Lucy Hall in the RWCMD Design Department they spoke about the relationship with the Director and Designer and the level of collaboration between the individuals

We were then put in pairs and given some plays to work on in order to help develop our working relationship. I was partnered with a RWCMD Design Student called Kathryn Brown.

The play we worked on is called Brown Boys Swim by Karim Khan

Kathryn created a mood board and we discussed the different elements of the production. We worked on the core idea of movement and cubic elements, The play interrogates feelings of oppression and the individuals place in society. Kathryn found that the traditional changing cubicle in the swimming pool would be great metaphor for the boys lives, sharing and then isolation so we played with this element.

Kathryn’s designs

We then worked on choreographic elements for the space. We had a few creative meetings, and considered what the change of position of the cubicles in the work would this mean to the audience and storyboarded the development of the play together.

A rough design was presented to me and we then looked at the blocking and the choreography was clear, we focused on the visual details, lighting, colour  and transitions in the space. We focused on design details and construction, how scenery might be moved around the space and considerations of construction. A more detailed version of the model box was presented to me, we then finalised the design details and the practicalities of the sightlines for the audience.  

Kathryn’s costume designs

Our  brief was based on a specific space called The Studio at Chapter Arts Centre so we went on a site visit to the venue.

Kathryn’s finished model box

This was my first project at College I really enjoyed going into the design studio as I have a design background myself. Everyone involved was very inclusive, it was very collaborative. The RWCMD Tutors would often come in to chat, it was great to see such a high level of support.

I enjoyed being around the students, RWCMD is comfortable and homely, its a welcoming campus you can have lunch and work its such a pleasant environment.

The exhibition at RWCMD runs until the 10 Feb you can find more information below with a selection of images from other RWCMD Designers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get The Chance has a firm but friendly comments policy.