Holly’s ‘Driving Ambition’ Earns Her Yeats Design Residency

An artistic portrayal of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth driving a Formula 1 racing car has helped an IT Sligo student secure the prestigious Yeats Design Residency for 2016 with the world famous Abbey Theatre.

Holly Smith, who’s a final year Performing Arts student and a motorsport enthusiast, was announced as this year’s recipient at a special ceremony in Dublin.

The Yeats Design residency is a collaboration between the Abbey and IT Sligo, which began in 2012, and aims to nurture the talent of young Theatre Design students in the Institute’s Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Performing Arts.

The Residency is a six-month internship at the Abbey.  Students learn how world-class theatre directors, designers, technical and production staff at the Abbey Theatre collaborate. They acquire at first hand an understanding of how set design is incorporated into the process of creating a production.

During the Yeats Design Residency, staff in the Abbey Theatre’s production department participate in student assessments and in the final year presentation process.

The Yeats Design Residency bursary, which is now into its fifth year, is awarded to one student at the end of May.

As part of the selection process, students were given the task of designing a set for Macbeth and The Walworth Farce on the Abbey stage. The finalists were provided with a design brief, a budget and a timeline, in the same way professional designers are.

The adjudicators were impressed with Holly’s creativity in both her designs.

“The idea was to put Macbeth in a contemporary setting,” explains Holly, who’s originally from Reeth in North Yorkshire. “So, I decided to place the character in the very cut-throat, masculine and ambitious world of formula 1 racing.”

“That’s one of the aspects I love about this course,” Holly adds. “It has given me the freedom to design exactly as I want.”

Adding his congratulations to Holly’s award, Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of IT Sligo said: “We are enormously proud of our collaboration with the Abbey Theatre. Not only does this award add a fresh modern dimension to the links that W.B. Yeats had with both the Abbey and Sligo, it also provides an unrivalled opportunity for contemporary hands-on learning with a theatre that is respected the world over.”

Holly begins her residency at the Abbey at the end of June, and sees the opportunity as an important stepping stone in realising her longer term ambitions

“I would love to establish a career in Production Design in theatre, film or even gaming. I like working on Environmental aspect of design, out on location.”

The previous winners of the Yeats Design Residency are:

2012 Lydia Concannon (Mayo)
2013 Diarmuid Ó Flaherty (Sligo)
2014 Rebekka Duffy (Westmeath)
2015 Rachel Molloy (Galway)
2016 Holly Smith (Yorkshire, England).

Photo caption:
Final year IT Sligo Performing Arts student Holly Smith with her Macbeth ‘Formula 1’ set design model which helped her secure the Yeats Design Residency for 2016 with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

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