The Dutch Courtesan

Profile: Jan Bee Brown

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    jbbtwitWith over 25 years experience working in design, Jan Bee Brown is an established theatre designer, textile artist and freelance curator – skills which she frequently shares with students through lectures and masterclasses exploring costume and set design.

    Jan Bee describes her role as that of a “visual storyteller”, with her passion centred in the discovery, exploration and re-telling of lost and hidden stories. This drive has led to her involvement in a wide range of projects varying greatly in their nature and scale. From restaurant refurbishment to set design on a west end stage, Jan Bee continues to take on a diverse set of ventures, though all are married together by the common appeal of a story waiting to be explored and brought to life.

    Early in her theatrical design career, Jan Bee became Resident Designer of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, designing Purple Dust, The Glass Menagerie and Tagann Godot. Her next residency brought her to the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, where she has worked on many occasions with Sir Alan Ayckbourn on productions such as Conversations With My Father, which subsequently transferred to the Old Vic, London, Relatively Speaking and Dear Uncle.

    Jan Bee has also worked with Chris Monks, Sir Alan’s successor as the theatre’s Artistic Director. Regarding her design for Monks’ production of Marlene, Jan Bee was praised by critics for her ability to “simply and economically achieve an image of tawdry opulence”, while her research for the project also inspired Monks’ own trip to Berlin to further explore the play’s context. Having been described by the theatre’s touring and programming director as both “accurate with detail and bold at the same time”, Jan Bee continues her collaboration with the theatre and is due to design three productions by Sir Alan Ayckbourn later this year: Farcicals, Time of My Life and Arrivals and Departures.

    Dutch Courtesan early set designs

    Dutch Courtesan early set designs

    As a tutor, Jan Bee has recently worked with TFTV’s third year BA students on their assessed productions of plays by Howard Brenton and David Garrick. Conducting masterclasses with the students during the early design stages of these projects, Jan Bee worked to open up all the design possibilities available in TFTV’s two major performance spaces, and to teach that the design of a production must aid, rather than impede, the story being told.

    Of her involvement with The Dutch Courtesan, Jan Bee has said: “The play looks at love and lust in 17th Century London. As a post-feminist artist and theatre designer there is much to get my teeth into!”

    You can visit Jan Bee’s Pinterest board detailing her inspirations for The Dutch Courtesan so far, and her website, janbeebrown.co.uk. , has photos of many of her past projects.

    Follow Jan Bee on Twitter: twitter-janbee