Sonia Haccius has been designing sets for theatre, television and events for seventeen years. Originally trained as a jeweller, she worked as a freelance modelmaker for six years, which led to an interest in theatre. In 1997, she took an MA in Theatre Set Design at the Slade School of Fine Art, studying under Philip Prowse of the Glasgow Citizens Theatre.
She is interested in creating sets that don’t just provide a kitchen or a living room backdrop, but which underline the emotional drama of a play, and become an integral part of the performance. A theatrical performance should happen in the same space as the audience, not in respective “stage” and “auditorium” spaces , so if possible she prefers to have the stage encompass the audience, either by extending the setting into the auditorium, or by sitting the audience amongst the elements of the set.
Previous work includes designs for Focus Theatre, Rattlebag, Barnstorm Theatre Company, David Horan, Island Theatre Company, Serendipity Theatre Company, the Mill Theatre, the Abbey and Co-Opera.
After designing the site-specific Complexity with Complex Productions in 2009, Sonia was a founder member of The Complex in Smithfield Square, a multi-disciplinary art and performance venue.
This play is set in a squatted warehouse in New York four months after 9/11. This was a fascinating play for me to design because I was in New York when the Towers came down, so I had a personal experience of the eeriness of the aftermath and the xenophobia that set in shortly afterwards. I particularly remember the coating of dust that settled everywhere.
The starting point for this set came from the famous images of the wreckage around Ground Zero, the quality of which I tried to suggest through the barrier of wrecked furniture on the stage (one of the characters is an inveterate skip-diver). I also used the clutter of the squat to recreate the skyline of New York in an opening sequence.
This production made use of the accumulated elements of 50 years of Focus productions, when the Focus Theatre venue was finally cleared out.
This play is set outside an abandoned bungalow which is about to be renovated. It has been bought at the height of the boom, so represents both an opportunity and a burden, security and a trap. The detritus of the previous occupants lies scattered around, along with barbed wire.
I put the surrounding landscape on the walls and roof of the bungalow, and the rotting interior carpet outside to suggest both the opportunities and the dangers that the new house represents.
For this project, I used a lightweight rigid material called Foamex, which could be printed with the image to create a much smoother surface than stretched canvas, a major consideration as the set had to tour.