Student looking at the camera smiling.

Georgia Hook

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My background is in theatre-making, having previously studied at The University of York on the Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance undergraduate programme. It was through this that I discovered a particular interest in design and the spatial, temporal aspects of live performance. 

What have you been doing since finishing your studies?/What are you doing in terms of your career? 

Since completing an MA in Performance Design, I have continued working as a performance designer, engaging predominantly in new writing and collaborating as part of a devising team. I am mostly compelled by formally experimental performances that blur the boundaries between theatre and live art. In autumn 2023, I’ll be returning to Leeds and the School of Performance and Cultural Industries to begin a PhD, funded by WRoCAH.

What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve?

I work with different theatre companies and artists, designing for shows, as well as often contributing to the devising process. My role involves lots of collaboration. I’m responsible for designing the sets and costumes, sourcing or creating the materials necessary to see it all realised. 

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career?

The MA in Performance Design has fed directly into my work, providing a strong foundational understanding of the history of the practice, as well as a highly useful critical approach to making and attending performances. I have developed particular sensitivities towards the potential of materials to perform on stage and the curation of audience experience – aspects that have folded into my current design processes. I can also now draw on a number of academic and artistic reference points that influence the way I think about, talk about and engage with design.  

Why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

As a northerner myself, I am enthusiastic about opportunities to engage with arts and culture in the North of England – a creativity encapsulated by the city of Leeds, as well as championed within the University itself. My main reason for applying was the course itself: the MA in Performance Design offers comprehensive insight into the roots and expansiveness of scenographic practice. Having studied theatre more generally, the course provided the necessary specificity I sought regarding design, as well as opening up new artistic possibilities beyond the stage. I was grateful for the chance to learn and respond to ideas not only through written analysis, but also practically and collaboratively – all the while being taught by experts in the field. 

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?

Having access to the wonderful facilities at the stage@leeds, along with the aid of the technical teams, is invaluable. I also thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working alongside other design-oriented individuals – all with a range of backgrounds and skill sets that were drawn on when collaborating. The independent research component of the course was an excellent opportunity to dig deeper into personal areas of interest.

Did you work closely with a particular tutor or member of the University’s academic staff? 

For the course’s independent research project you are paired with a suitable supervisor, to help guide the writing of your dissertation (and fulfilment of practical components if undertaking practice-led research). Professor Joslin McKinney supervised my project - helping me to structure an approach to this longer-form research, suggesting critical materials to look at and listening to my ideas. Such support was cruicial to the process and resulted in me producing a piece of research to be proud of and that has contributed to my decision to do a PhD. 

What activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

Outside of formal study, I was selected to take part in the Cultural Institute’s ‘Creative Labs’ programme – a project that facilitated collaborations between students with different disciplines. My pairing with a student from the MMus in Critical and Experimental Composition was creatively fruitful and I was able to apply my design skills in a new context. 

What would you say to students thinking about studying your course?

Do it! I am so glad I took the step to apply. Guiding you through the course, Joslin and Scott are exceptionally generous in their teaching and enthusiasm - encouraging experimentation and curiosity in both conceptual and practical work. It was a formative experience for me and one I am very grateful for.  

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

Leeds is a vibrant city with countless cultural offerings and opportunitites to expand your horizons. Its proximity to national parks, other northern cities and smaller market towns make good day trips easy to plan too.