She turns stage into mind of boy on autism spectrum
Bunny Christie helps audiences understand character in The Curious Incident Of The Dog
The stage set-up for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is a simple black box. But when the lights go down and the show starts, magic happens.
The stage takes the audience to the suburban town of Swindon, Paddington station in London and even outer space.
The stage also takes the audience into the mind of Christopher Boone, 15, who is on the autism spectrum.
This is all down to stage designer Bunny Christie, 56, who has been working magic in the theatre for three decades.
She went to art school in London and found that theatre design suited her personality. She then worked her way up, designing small productions and finally bigger shows with the National Theatre in London.
For her work in Curious Incident, she won her third Olivier Award and a Tony Award.
The play has won five Tony Awards and seven Olivier Awards. It was first adapted in 2012 from Mark Haddon's award-winning novel of the same name.
It has played in Britain, the US, Australia, Mexico and South Korea.
The British cast will be here for a run at the Esplanade Theatre from March 29 to April 8.
Ms Christie told The New Paper via e-mail: "The play is written from Christopher's point of view, and it jumps around to multiple locations and in time. So we are sometimes in a suburban house but then in outer space or on a train or the London Underground or his bedroom or a schoolroom or on a beach, so it had to be able to instantly be all these places.
"I wanted the audience to be able to feel what it might feel like to be Christopher, almost inside his brain. That meant he could take us to wherever he was thinking about and the company can become all the characters and things he needs to tell the story."
Ms Christie wanted to use the set to create a "murder mystery adventure", which is "thrilling and frightening and funny all at the same time".
As Christopher is on the autism spectrum, his thoughts as depicted in Haddon's novel are often scattered. His emotions also swing from one extreme to the other rapidly.
This presented certain challenges for Ms Christie, as she had to help the audience understand the mind of a boy with autism.
She said: "The set represents how he feels emotionally. So when Christopher feels calm the set is orderly. Everything is in straight lines. But when he gets anxious or frightened the set begins to fizz and crackle and become full of lights and sound and feel out of his control."
There are points when the sound gets too loud, the lights too bright and people move erratically to represent how Christopher views the world. Sometimes, he even walks along the walls of the set.
Ms Christie said: "We don't know which way is up - the walls become the floor, the floor becomes the ceiling."
To ensure that the actors did not get injuries, the set has a non-slip surface and the cast members must wear certain footwear so they do not fall.
She added: "The team is good at looking after themselves and warming up. The company practise a lot and really trust each other - that is very important."
Ms Christie has designed sets for more than 50 plays and operas, including Shakespeare works such as Henry IV and Julius Caesar.
She said: "Shakespeare often deals in magic and things that are not as they seem - where strange, unexpected things can happen and where people have to be brave and learn how to love and look after themselves - so it is not different from Curious Incident."
Secrets of the trade
Get good training
There are specific skills that set designers need to learn, such as model making, computer drawing and developing their 3D imagination. They also have to work on communicating their ideas.
See lots of theatre and film and catch exhibitions, installations and sculpture works
Be inspired by other people and find out whose work you admire. Then, develop your own visual taste.
Be on time, be tenacious, be positive and ask questions
You need to be able to work alone and with big groups of people and be able to compromise, but keep a sense of what is important in your design.