Set designer and miniature model-maker Warda Abbasi isthe new Resident Designer at Leeds Playhouse in partnership with Leeds-based theatre company tutti frutti, supported by the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme.
There’s not many self-taught set designers, but Bradford-based Warda used her time in the box office at Halifax’s Square Chapel to to watch lots of theatre and horn model-making skills in her spare time.
That led to a spot as Assistant Designer on tutti frutti’s Sweet Dreams about the joys of sleeping and dreaming written by Mike Kenny. When this production was developed into an audio play due to covid restrictions Warda was employed as a Craft Creator for tutti frutti’s digital Storytime project.
Forty people applied for the Resident Designer position, which includes spending time in Leeds Playhouse’s production departments, working as a designer on shows and helping to expand development opportunities within its Creative Engagement and Furnace programmes.
But Warda impressed the interview panel – Leeds Playhouse Associate DirectorAmy Leach,tutti frutti Artistic Director Wendy Harris, Playhouse Technical Director Jude Cloke and Director and Creative Producer Amanda Huxtable – who were particularly impressed by her passion for theatre, clarity about why it matters, and brilliant design ideas.
As well her Playhouse role Warda will also spend time with tutti frutti as an Assistant Designer and join 49 other Weston Jerwood Fellows for a year of professional development, networking and mentoring.
“I’m extremely grateful for the wonderful opportunity to be the Resident Designer for Leeds Playhouse and tutti frutti,” said Warda Abbasi. “I’m really excited to get started and to be part of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme. It’s great to see such initiatives championing diversity and people from marginalised backgrounds.”
The Resident Designer role is one of 50 creative bursaries funded by Weston Jerwood at arts and cultural organisations across the UK for 2020-2022. These opportunities are specifically aimed at early career arts workers who have experienced social and economic barriers to employment.
Warda begins her new role later this month, but she is keeping busy as one of ten guest artists leading online creative workshops for Reasons to be Hopeful as part of Leeds Playhouse’s Playhouse Connect programme.