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A hands-on history of Oxford Youth Theatre

Taking Flight will be a theatrical and interactive installation
exploring the history of Oxford Youth Theatre and Pegasus Theatre for the Museum of Oxford’s temporary exhibition space. Designed and constructed by the Oxford Youth Theatre Production Company (OYT’s team of young designers and technicians), this installation aims to make our five decades of history interesting and exciting for children and young people through the magic of theatre… In the following pages you can see the portfolio of illustrations, layout drawings, models and written plans the team have put together during their 4 week design process. The Production Company has designed everything you see here: the layout and structures, the historical and interactive content, the visual and technical style, the publicity and print designs… …And will go on to deliver their designs in full – building and painting structures and scenery, researching and compiling archive materials (posters, programmes, tickets, photos, soundtracks etc.), gathering and recreating theatrical artefacts (set, props, costumes, models), writing and drawing information and activity panels, publicising and promoting their creation – as well as being on hand to act as curators and guides once the exhibition opens to the public in December 2009.

OYT Production Company
Structures Designer/ Lead Builder:

Louis Ramirez
Zone Designers – Foyer:

Maria Marinari Thea Isom
Zone Designers – Stage

Meg George Serena Elwine
Zone Designers – Backstage

Production Company at work…

Laurence Whittaker Ruori McIntyre
Publicity and External Display Designers:

James Roberts Rosanna Cull
The Team are supported by the younger Production Group (8-16 years) and by Dave Thwaites, Nomi Everall, Naomi Morris and Tom James (Pegasus Theatre)

As a team the Production Company discussed and agreed a starting point for their design work to develop from. The idea they decided on was to divide the temporary exhibition space in the Museum of Oxford into three distinct ‘zones’ – each focusing on a key aspect of Pegasus Theatre’s work – The

1:20 Scale Model of the Temporary Exhibition space @ The Museum of Oxford – Before Louis’ model of the Taking Flight structures…

Foyer, The Stage and Backstage…

Developing this idea further, Louis Ramirez, Structures Designer began to think about both the practicalities of HOW to divide the room

and the qualities of WHAT each zone would look and feel like…

Louis started by drawing a 1:25 scale ground plan of the space and his planned structures within it, which he then used to guide him as he built a 1:20 scale model (to sit inside our model of the whole room) of what he plans to create. We use models to think about the size, shape and materials of any potential constructions and to give ourselves a clear 3D image of what they will look like…
Louis and Dave working out the practicalities of how to build his ideas
You can see his work on the following pages…


This layout drawing shows the existing walls of the Museum of Oxford’s temporary exhibition space, along with the two main dividing structures Louis intends to create to form our three zones. The Foyer zone is on the left, the Stage zone is on the bottom right and the Backstage zone is top right…

1:20 Model Box and Design Ideas

You can see clearly from these photos of Louis’ model how he intends to divide up the room to create three zones… You can also see Louis’ design concept ideas in the way each of the wall and dividing structures are finished. He came up with the concept that each zone would have different quality or feel to it that reflects the nature of that space at Pegasus… These qualities:

SOFT, NEUTRAL, HARD highlight the

different types of work that happen at Pegasus as well as taking visitors on a journey…

The Foyer is a soft, warm, friendly environment –
welcoming for visitors. This is reflected in his choice of colours and materials – cream walls, some of which are clad in fabric (like the Pegasus’ old foyer). space, like the former stages at Pegasus, is a neutral space that has the power to be transformed by whatever is in it – so smooth, plain black walls & dance floor and black curtains form the basis for this zone. Finally, the Backstage space is a hard – with walls finished to look like black-painted breezeblocks – to reflect the idea that the work that goes on behind the scenes, whether you are a performer, technician or designer can be extremely hard work!

The Stage




Three pairs of designers, made up of one person with a visual focus and one with a technical focus (or two all-rounders) are responsible for designing the theatrical, historical and

interactive content of each of the zones – making sure that their design ideas tie
together across the whole exhibition. The Production Company spent a week brainstorming their ideas as a full group about how to present history in imaginative, interactive, theatrical and interesting ways before splitting into these smaller teams. Key decisions were made about visual style and division of content (including how to present a chronology of OYT’s history across the whole exhibition), which informed the ideas they developed in their pairs…

The Team decided on this design for the shape and style for all their panels of information. This design will be the same across all three zones, but vary in colour according to the colour scheme for each area.

Colour Schemes:
Each zone will have a particular colour associated with it:

Foyer: Stage:

(Pegasus’ front of house colour for many years…)

(Striking, energetic and dominant in many former productions’ designs)

Backstage: Purple
(A mix between offstage and on – the half way point between foyer and stage.)

ZONE 1: THE FOYER (Front of House)
Design Illustration (viewpoint from stage doorway in dividing wall)

ZONE 1: THE FOYER (Front of House)
Design Illustration (viewpoint from cleaner’s cupboard corner!)

ZONE 1: THE FOYER (Front of House)
Technical Elements and Summary
The Foyer Zone features the following:
• • A large overview information panel summarising Oxford Youth Theatre’s history between 1962 and 1975. Original posters, flyers, programmes and tickets from as many of OYT’s approximately 250 past productions as possible. Poster feature wall. Leaflet and Programme display rack. Recreations of the Box Office counters that appeared in the original studio theatre and in the Pegasus Theatre. Hands on activities for children including: Role Play / Dressing up as Box Office Manager behind counters Colouring in sheets of FOH, Stage and Backstage scenes A Timeline-type quiz based on the poster archive on display Original FOH display materials – such as ‘SK8Z’boy (cut out figure) TV displaying live feed of CCTV or Webcam pointed at ‘Stage’ in Stage Zone (so that visitors can see other visitors ‘performing’ in the Stage Zone from FOH). Soundtrack of Front of House announcements welcoming visitors to Pegasus Theatre and listing every production between 1962 and 2009 – on loop. E.g. “Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls and welcome to the Pegasus Theatre. This evening’s Oxford Youth Theatre Production of A Christmas Carol will begin in 1962…”

• •

• •


ZONE 2: THE STAGE (Performance Space and Auditorium)
Design Illustration (viewpoint from far end of Stage Zone towards doorway into Foyer Zone)

ZONE 2: THE STAGE (Performance Space and Auditorium)
Design Illustration (viewpoint from doorway from Foyer Zone into Stage Zone – towards heater)

ZONE 2: THE STAGE (Performance Space and Auditorium)
Technical Elements and Summary
The Stage Zone features the following:
• A large overview information panel summarising Oxford Youth Theatre from 2008 (on-the-road), OYT Companies and future plans. Original and replica set pieces, costumes, floor designs and backdrops from 5 key OYT productions as part of an interactive activity to ‘see yourself’ on stage in these shows. Original auditorium seats Hands on activities for children including: Dressing up in costumes from past productions Stage game to locate and position set piece on associated floor design and spikes (marks for set pieces we use on stage), wearing associated costume – and view in mirror Projection of slideshow of photos from OYT productions photo archive, showing image, title and year. Soundtrack of excerpts from soundtracks from as many OYT past productions as archive materials allow. Recreated backdrop from ‘Into The Fire’ featuring timeline listing all OYT productions from 1962 to 2009


• •




ZONE 3: BACKSTAGE (Behind the Scenes)
Design Illustration (viewpoint from curtained dividing wall between Stage Zone and Backstage Zone)

ZONE 3: BACKSTAGE (Behind the Scenes)
Design Illustration (viewpoint from doorway from Foyer Zone into Backstage Zone)

Technical Elements

ZONE 3: BACKSTAGE (Behind the Scenes)
The Backstage Zone features the following:
• • • • • A large overview information panel summarising Oxford Youth Theatre from 1975 to 2008. Information panels about the history of Lighting, Sound, Stage Management and Deputy Stage Management at Pegasus. Original and replica props, costumes, model boxes and Stage Manager (SM)/ Deputy Stage Manager (DSM) scripts from past OYT productions. A 3D timeline of OYT productions, with props and costume items as time markers. Interactive activities for children including: Props and costumes handling collection Dressing up in costumes from past productions Props Table activity, whereby children locate props from the display wall and learn to arrange them as a Stage Manager would on a marked up table. Working canns system (headsets used for quiet communication backstage) with guides on how to use them and how to ‘call’ a show from an archive DSM script. Soundscape of backstage noises (whispering, rustling, cans communication etc.). Probably non-functional display in ‘grid’ of theatre lights. NB. Functionality is subject to agreement with Electrician at Museum of Oxford.

• •

Print Design
Two members of the Company are focusing on all the aspects of the installation that occur beyond the four walls of the exhibition space. They will be creating links and teasers to act as a bread-crumb trail through the permanent displays of the museum leading to the final room – our installation. They will also be creating banners or set pieces that can move from place to place – from workshop and performance spaces in the town hall, to Cornmarket, to the foyer of the Museum of Oxford to publicise our event… But they have been focusing their initial efforts on designing the posters and flyers that will promote the Company’s work…

Rosanna and James have developed their ideas to reflect the design ideas of the whole team – so, as you will see on the following page, they have created interactive activities for children on the back of the flyer and designed three versions to tie in with the three zones. They have also adopted the visual style of the whole exhibition by using the speech bubble (panel design) as the centre piece of their design.


(Flyer front image is on the 1st page of this sketchbook) Here you can see the three activities they designed for the backs of their flyers to get children more interested in coming down to see the exhibition itself


Involving the next generation of young technicians and designers.

OYT Production Company are the senior team of young technicians and designers at Pegasus Theatre, but there are another group of 8-16 year olds who are rapidly learning the ropes… This junior team will imminently be involved in helping the Production Company to build, paint and realise their wonderful designs. But in the meantime, they too have been thinking about the installation… During skills sessions this term they have begun to think about what makes an interesting and eye-catching exhibition as well as building their own scale models of the Stage Zone.

Model boxes of imaginary scenery and backdrops for the Stage Zone

Experiments with lighting, film and technical effects for displaying objects

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