Scenic Art Student Story: Madeleine Young | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Student Story: Madeleine Young

Image of Madeleine Young, Scenic Art student at Central

Having just passed the half way point of her undergraduate degree in Scenic Art, Madeleine Young talks to us about her time on the course so far.

What was it that made you interested in the course, and why Central?

I’ve always been interested in theatre and art, and wanted to pursue a career backstage in theatre since I was about 8 years old. I went through various phases (costume making/design, wigs and makeup, a brief foray into architecture) before I settled on stage design and set painting.

When I started looking into degrees at universities, Central stood out as the kind of place I’d like to spend three years of my life. I came to the open day, got talking to the Scenic Art tutor, and it all fell into place.

Scenic Art was the perfect meld of my passions; I’m more of a maker than an ideas person, so I’m better suited to following someone else’s design as a scenic painter than to creating a concept myself.

How are you finding your studies at Central? What’s been your favourite project?

I’ve really loved my time at Central so far. I’ve had the chance to work on a huge variety of shows and projects, and meet and work with so many wonderful people, both my fellow students and visiting professionals.

My favourite thing to work on would be The Empress, the BA Acting - Collaborative and Devised Theatre show in first year. It was the first full public production I worked on; the set was huge and ambitious, but after a few weeks’ hard work, the final outcome was brilliant. We got to use many different techniques and materials I hadn’t encountered before, and it was really fun collaborating with all the other departments that made up the production team.

The facilities at Central are amazing, too. The workshop here is the biggest I’ve worked in, and we have a huge paintframe to paint cloths and backdrops. I think the workshop facilities and our wonderful workshop managers are going to be one of the biggest things I’ll miss when I graduate!

Have you undertaken any placements?

At the end of my first year, I undertook a placement at Watford Palace Theatre, spending a few weeks painting their pantomime, which I absolutely loved. For the rest of this year I’ll be on placement as well; so far, I’m going to several different scenic workshops, the National Theatre, and an art and picture frame restorers.

Since starting, have there been any opportunities that have arisen outside of the course? 

I’ve been really lucky to get some amazing opportunities to work outside of the course. Some of these have come from tutors at Central; a lot of Central alumni currently working in the industry seek out current students to assist with projects and undertake work experience with them, and some contact course tutors, who pass them on to students. Others have come from contacts I’ve made myself, working in the industry.

Do you feel confident in a professional career in the industry after the course?

Central puts a lot of focus on preparing you to be a professional practitioner, and it’s really helped me feel confident about joining the industry. I started freelancing properly in the summer after my first year, working on a few small shows with some friends from Central. Since then I’ve started working more and more, fitting jobs in when I can around my studies.

The first time I turned up at the stage door of a West End theatre it was quite intimidating, but I feel a lot more prepared the further I progress in my degree at Central than I would do otherwise.

Find out more about the course

Find out more information about the BA (Hons) Theatre Practice: Scenic Art course.

The facilities at Central are amazing, too. The workshop here is the biggest I’ve worked in, and we have a huge paintframe to paint cloths and backdrops.