Filling the

Empty pace

This year, SALLY JACOBS has designed shows both in the International Festival and on the Fringe. She talks to Mark Fisher about her work over the past 30 years which has ranged from the innovative productions Peter Brook staged at Stratford in the 60s to TAG’s recently completed Scots Quair cycle.

good designer. like a good director, is invisible. Designers who fill the stage with architecturally elaborate constructions are ten-a-penny. They’ll earn themselves a round of applause for their audacity and imag- ination, but as often as not they deal in quick fixes that turn out to dwarf the actors and obscure the play. A good design is not showy or flash, it’sjust right. It may be bold, striking and impressive, but if its construction is not

governed by a sympathy to the play. then it will merely be a distraction. The same is true about good acting, good music, good lighting; technical skill is just a stepping stone on the path to artistic accomplishment.

Of all directors. Peter Brook is arguably the most invisible. You can recognise a Brook production from a back-row seat in the gods. but try and pinpoint the specific and unique Brook moments and you’re lost. The quality of his best work is that there is no directorial intervention, no hallmark,

no intrusive statement. just a simplicity that

seems to give a play full voice. This same qual—

ity must have been what Brook recognised in the young designer Sally Jacobs when she first approached him in a rush of enthusiasm after seeing his 1962 production of King Lear. “This was the first time I’d really had any idea of what theatre could do.’ Jacobs recalls now. “It was the most important thing I’d ever seen and it was what I had got into theatre for.’

Initially drawn to the stage by the creative

18 The List 13—19 August 1993