Category Archives: DESIGN

The Very Important Child

The Very Important Child is my second collaboration with dance theatre company The Mostly Everything People. I designed and lit this anarchic and entertaining show. Developed to fit a tight budget, the designs are playful yet practical – creating a strong visual world for the piece – and are easy to tour.

“…there’s no denying that Ben Pacey’s design is well-thought out, [and] Preece and Scudeletti playfully use their resources to good effect. Pacey’s lighting too is thoughtfully conceived. Visually, there’s so much to take in and enjoy.”

Photos © John Freddy Jones 2016.

Adventures of the Little Ghost

Adventures of the Little Ghost is a dance performance for young audiences. It’s performed by a core team of professional dancers, who dance alongside a company of community performers – including young people – local to each venue on the tour.

As set designer for the project, I created an immersive in-the-round environment, where the audience are really up-close and connected to the performance, and which gently helps to establish the key locations in the story.

Choreographed and produced by Sophie Nüzel, Adventures of the Little Ghost is currently touring.

Comeback Special

This elusive performance by Greg Wohead is part “sort of” re-enactment, part séance. Conjuring a kind of Elvis, the idea of Elvis, Greg as Elvis, and… Greg as Greg.

In development, I worked with other collaborators to  devise ideas and create strange performative moments in response to Greg’s initial provocations. During this process, Rebecca Shneider’s text Peforming Remains inspired us to explore the idea that while the piece we were making would clearly not be the original ’68 Comeback Special, it would not not be it.

Later, this idea would influence my approach to designing the set and lighting. In a way the design is a minimal treatment, following the in-the-round format of the original broadcast, but adding reflection, shadow, and queitly dissolving—ghosting out—the edges of reality. Leaving room…

Catherine Love, writing in Exeunt sees Comeback Special as “…a perfect reconstruction in some ways, deliberately imperfect in others… this is a black-and-white negative of the 1968 Comeback Special. An echo. A ghost.”

And James Waygood writes that “Ben Pacey’s scene design is just as meticulous as Wohead’s deconstruction… [leaving] the performance area a blank canvas for Wohead to project upon and the audience to fill in. Pacey has created a theatrical infinity box, complete with ever ebbing lighting that radiates with narcotic finesse.”

And that (gently) narcotic lighting is, of course, also tightly integrated with the extraodinary loops and layers of Tim X Atack‘s sound design.

Check out Greg’s site for details of future performances of Comeback Special.

Photos © Richard Eaton 2016.

Sleepdogs R&D

Collaborating with Sleepdogs, I spent a stimulating week in Bristol, helping to develop ideas for the visual aesthetic of their new project, Dark Land Light House.

It’s a sci-fi/horror piece: a fairly rare (but really exciting!) genre in contemporary theatre, and totally appropriate to be exploring within the generic darkness of the black-box studio.

The kind of space where – just beyond the light – there really might be anything…

Photo © Paul Blakemore, 2014.

A Journey Around My Skull

I collaborated with Kiln Ensemble to design the set and lighting for this solo performance by Olivia Winteringham, one of Kiln’s co-artistic directors.

Created on a tiny budget, the design locates the performance in an ambiguous, slightly unheimlich room: part consultant’s office, part operating theatre, part voyeuristic medical dream-space.

For a key moment in the show – live brain surgery(!) – I made a bespoke “head” for Olivia to “operate” on. Adapted from a retail display moulding, I designed and installed internal LEDs and biaural microphones.

Photos © Johnathan Blackwood, 2014.

Landscape II

Melanie Wilson‘s Landscape II is a bold hybrid of performance, film and sound art. The piece premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2013, prior to UK touring.

I co-designed the set with Melanie, also working in close collaboration with video artist Will Duke and Fuel’s production manager Stuart Heyes.

“The set, too, plays its part… giving proceedings an intimate feel…” – SABOTAGE REVIEWS

I also created a dynamic lighting design which was tightly integrated with the production as a whole – including the video design – whilst keeping the number of light elegantly manageable.

Production Photos © Al Mass 2013 / Set Photos © Ben Pacey 2013


Palimpsest City

Palimpsest City is a digital/performance project which I’ve been helping to develop, from an intial concept by Bohdan Piasecki.

Bohdan’s idea was to establish an imaginary city – Palimpsest City – as a framing device for poems and stories: in particular, for spoken word poetry. The city will exist as an online space to explore, and as a live performance event.

The very first iteration of Palimpsest City  was performed at AE Harris in Birmingham on 18th March 2012. There’s a review of this version of the project on the Theatre Fever website.

Since then various performances and online tests have taken place. We’re currently working with producer Bianca Winter to fully realise the project.

The Wake – A book for the year

As the final part of The Wake, I conceived and designed a small book on behalf of Jane Packman Company. The book was created as a gift for our audiences, and whilst I’m not going to tell you about the contents of the book – that’s between us and those aforementioned audiences – suffice to say that it’s a unique and lovely thing that was a pleasure to make.

If you’re interested, it’s a 56pp custom format book, digitally printed onto FSC stock, perfect bound and hand finished. The tree image on the cover is an illustration by Barney George.

Photo © Ben Pacey 2013

You Are The Moon


I collaborated with Jon Spooner to make this short performance/film for Unlimited Theatre‘s MIXTAPE project. We worked together for a few days in Birmingham, and later showed (and filmed) the performance at BAC.

The piece is our response to You Are The Moon by The Hush Sound. Jon and I collaborated on the initial devising, writing and creation of the piece. I then designed and lit the piece, and Jon performed.

It was filmed by Chris Cottam, and edited by Gareth McEwan. Here it is, on vimeo: