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Student’s exploration of gender identity shortlisted for the Linbury Prize

Vivien Lau, who recently graduated from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Rochester with a BA (Hons) Design for Theatre, Film & Performance, was one of just 25 students nationwide to be shortlisted for the prestigious Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2017.

The work she submitted for the award was inspired by the Greek comedy ‘Lysistrata’ by Aristophanes, and included a dance film and installation, together with costume design.

Vivien, who is from Singapore, explains: “’Lysistrata’ is about a group of women who implement a sex-strike to stop the war between Sparta and Athens. The play touches on gender stereotypes, and explores how after being underestimated by men, the women went on to change the course of history.

“With themes of gender equality in mind, I developed a concept which involved presenting a transgendered performer to express the story of Lysistrata through contemporary dance performance.”

Fiona Watt, Lecturer in Scenography at UCA Rochester, adds: “Vivien’s piece takes a fragment of Lysistrata and turns it into this whirling statement about gender identity and physicality. Every element has been thought through, tested and developed.

“We are living in a world led by the visual. In making this response to the piece, Vivien has made a piece of work with international reach and I have no doubt that she will become a very active and present member of our international scenographic community.”

Vivien has undergone several selection days with the judges, ahead of the Linbury Prize winner being announced in November.

Of her time studying Design for Theatre, Film & Performance at UCA, Vivien says: “After being exposed to more artists during my classes at uni, I developed an aspiration to create bold work. I was never afraid to come up with crazy designs and being shortlisted for this award has given me the confidence to push myself further.”

Following her graduation, Vivien now plans to gain additional experience in designing for the theatre in London, before heading home to Singapore.