Jun 29 2020

Nicola recently won our Coronavirus Volunteer Award (staff), which recognises her amazing contributions to her community during the pandemic. Nicola has been using her design skills to create PPE for NHS workers through a volunteer collective called 'Scrubs Glorious Scrubs', and in response to the Surrey wide 'Handmade for Heroes' campaign. We recently caught up with Nicola to ask what inspired her to do this, and to thank her for her efforts.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and your role in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance?

I trained as a Theatre Designer at Nottingham Trent University and went on to complete an MA in Applied and Participatory Theatre here at Royal Holloway. I freelance as a designer and maker for theatre alongside my job at Royal Holloway as the Design Technician. I’ve worked across many interesting venues from traditional theatres to museums, castles, libraries, schools, swimming pools, air hangers, film sets and tents.

In my role as the design technician I help students and staff to realise their requirements for set, costume, props and anything creative that’s needed within the department. We have a store of costumes, props and scenery and two workshops where we make everything. I manage the costume and design workshop. As a member of the technical team, we train and supervise the students in technical theatre and we manage and run our spaces and the performances that take place in them. I teach on the scenography course and run scenography workshops for various other modules within the department. I am also the department’s photographer, capturing our events, productions and the day to day life of the department. We have photos displayed all round our department, come on over and take a look!

2. Congratulations on winning the Coronavirus volunteer award (staff), can you tell us a bit more about the volunteer work that you’ve been doing?

I initially started off researching and making masks for local NHS workers at the request of two friends, a GP and a Surgeon, and am continuing to make masks for family and friends. I then volunteered with a local collective called ‘Scrubs Glorious Scrubs’ to make scrubs for NHS workers. The collective has over 400 seamstresses and to date has made over 8000 sets!

3. Your role allows you to be very creative, what inspired you to work in design?

My mum was always very creative and I fell in love with both art and theatre at school - it gave me a new found confidence and creative outlet. The seminal moment for me was watching Frantic Assembly’s ‘Hymns’. After watching that I knew all I wanted to do was make theatre. From there my two interests of fine art and theatre began to weave together and I found my calling as a theatre designer.

4. Working in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance must be very dynamic, what do you enjoy most about working in that department, and Royal Holloway overall?

I love the creative energy of our students and also the variety of the work we do day to day. Each day is never the same. Royal Holloway is probably the most beautiful office you could ever dream of working in, and I’m constantly inspired by the breadth of research and projects taking place across all the departments and the university as a whole.

5. Aside from your volunteering efforts, how else are you spending your time outside of work currently?

I imagine much like the rest of the UK during lockdown: Gardening, cooking and eating too much, lots of walking and exploring expeditions with my toddler and husband, regular karaoke, Eurovision, murder mystery and dance zoom parties and watching many, many box sets!