Managing Director/Partner - Charcoalblue Experience
Ian leads the digital design practice and our Research and Development team, focussing on new ways of combining technology and theatricality. He provides project management and consultancy on all aspects of theatre design, broadcast and screening systems and acoustics.
Ian has almost a decade’s experience as a theatre consultant and over fourteen years’ experience in audio and theatre production. He was previously the Technical Manager at Battersea Arts Centre and his theatre credits include work with Punchdrunk and Kneehigh. In addition, to live performance, Ian has worked in recording studios where his credits include albums by Diana Ross and Matthew Herbert and films such as ‘The Queen’ and ‘Children of Men’. He has performed and taught extensively as a percussionist and remains actively involved in new theatre and performance as an Associate Director of Bad Physics.
At Charcoalblue, Ian has developed significant experience beyond traditional theatrical spaces creating unique workplaces, public realm and events spaces with audio, video and digital technologies. Ian leads our digital design practice and our in-house Research and Development team and in 2018 he joined the Charcoalblue partnership.
Ian’s consultancy work with Charcoalblue includes extensive, worldwide work with Google, the Stirling Prize-winning Everyman Theatre in Liverpool and Center Stage in Baltimore.
Ian presents at Theatre 2016 at the Piccadilly Theatre (photo: Alex Brenner).
Ian with the Stirling Prize awarded to Liverpool's Everyman Theatre.
Ian celebrates Charcoalblue's 10th birthday at the National Theatre in 2014.
Ian discusses a project with Caroline and Alex.
What's the greatest lesson you've learnt as a Theatre Consultant?
Designing buildings is hard! Theatres are deeply complex and personal spaces, and there is no formula to a successful project.
What first sparked your love of theatre or performing arts?
Like so many people, my love of theatre and performing arts was sparked at school by a series of inspirational and dedicated teachers. In terms of professional memories, it’s hard to beat how I felt as an 18-year-old working at Norden Farm in Maidenhead when a show called 'Taylor's dummies' by Gecko came into the studio space on a tour - it blew my mind. From this show, I can track a direct influence on my career that took me to Battersea Arts Centre, our work with Bad Physics and led to a desire to create new forms of immersive experiences that still is the driving motivation for my design work.
What qualities should a 'great performance space' have?
People to use it. It is tempting to look to the past for inspiration but for theatre to remain relevant our buildings must be equipped for the future. Arts practitioners are uniquely qualified to challenge, develop and break technology and space. As a theatre consultant it is our job to provide an environment for this creativity to grow in a culturally relevant way. Storytelling in the essence of performance; whatever form, material or finish a building has it must make interaction easy, and rewarding.
You oversee the Charcoalblue R&D team, can you give us any hints as to what you’re working on?
We are looking into the future of performance spaces, and how the convergence of film, gaming and interactive design will impact live performance. Most excitingly we are looking at how VR and AR can be enjoyed collectively and what role the building they are experienced in can help with this.
Acoustics experts working on the St George’s Bristol extension give their tips for achieving the perfect performance sound.