Meet the Company - Set Designer, Giggy Argo


What we have been / What we may be  

We're back behind the scenes for our last company interview before we start rehearsals for Bard in the Botanics 2014. This time, we're chatting to set designer, Giggy Argo, who has been responsible for nearly all our beautiful designs in the past 5 years. Here's what she had to say about her time at Bard in the Botanics.


1. When, where and what was your first encounter with Bard in the Botanics?

I think my first encounter was painting the venetian blinds for (former Head of Design) Sarah Paulley’s Merchant of Venice design, which turned out to be not to be as easy as it sounds!  However that was the same season Sarah put me forward for the Design of the B in the Park Productions of Love’s Labours Lost and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I can’t remember which I actually started working on first.


2. Who would you describe as an unsung hero of Bard in the Botanics?

Obviously all of the production team work wonders and I could happily start listing names and accolades but I think they have all already been praised by other members answering this questionnaire.

Personally my unsung hero has to be Ricky McKenzie who has built all of my designs and some of Sarah’s.  Good carpentry is something that never gets mentioned in a review but it would certainly be obvious if the workmanship was poor!  Rickys standards are incredibly high and he does a fantastic job of understand my designs and the demands that working outdoors puts on a stage.


3. Which individual performance by an actor has made a particularly lasting impression on you (it might be one that you saw, worked with or was in a production you were involved with)?

I agree with Carys that Paul was fantastic in Hamlet however everyone was brilliant in Hamlet so it’s a tough call.  I think I could have watched it a hundred times over especially Finlay as the Gravedigger but maybe that was partly to do with the Aberdonian twang he had.


4. Of your own work, what is the most fulfilling production you’ve been a part of?

I think overall my favourite production is Hamlet.  Everything just came together so well, we had had a design/concept meeting quite early on then went off to play with ideas.  When we came back it was like myself and Carys had been developing our ideas in the same room. It was also my first big set for Bard that was all my own, I love run down/deteriorated designs and then seeing Jens reaction before the set was even complete I knew she was happy.  Then to top it all off Cary’s costumes, wow!


5. Which Bard in the Botanics production or performance did you miss that you wish you’d seen?

I am totally gutted that I never got to see A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2011, everyone raved about it. I was working on the Hamlet set in Edinburgh at the beginning of the run then the set went into the gardens and I remember working late on a couple of nights and hearing the music floating across the gardens.


6. Which costume (of yours or someone else’s) would you most like to have worn or is simply your favourite?

I think if I could get away with it I would move to the country and live in all the As You Like It 2012 forest costumes.


7. What is your favourite spot in the Botanics Gardens, known or unknown?

Whether it’s my favourite or just the most emotional area for me I don’t know but at the end of the day whether I’ve been building, painting, watching rehearsals on the set I like to go to the top of the lawn where the audience sits and look down on the stage and see how its all coming together.  It can be quite nerve wracking walking up there and knowing you have to turn round and see everything as a whole for he first time.


8. Bard in the Botanics has staged 24 of Shakespeare’s plays. Which of the titles we haven’t yet produced are you most excited about being staged?

Well I have to admit I’ve not read them all to make a fully educated decision but then there is such a difference between reading a Shakespeare and seeing it brought to life.  The direction can make or break a production but with the way Jen and Gordon bring such fresh ideas with them and their understanding of the texts I would be excited to see their take on any of the above.  It’s their interpretations that make the shows show enjoyable and the audiences coming back to brave the weather year after year.