Birds and Bees is a new play by award-winning writer Charlotte Josephine. It fuses spoken word with a specially commissioned soundtrack, and explores the complicated nature of teenage relationships. Theatre Centre are developing it, with an audience of young people in mind.
We began work on the project in April 2020. It was a strange time; we were still working from home and nobody was sure when live theatre would be possible again. We’d normally be working together in a studio; so remotely sharing concepts and sketches was a new approach for us.
We used paper and pens, photos and sketches on iPads to send sketches and generate mood-boards.
Teenagers are a tricky audience – messaging has to compete with the innumerable other stimuli of their lives.
The concept needed to find the right level of cheekiness: nodding to the show’s examination of sex and relationships, without being explicit.
The energy of the writing style was also really important.
We looked at all sorts of ideas to play with this, from photographic still life concepts to bold typographic ideas, before eventually hitting on the motif of doodles in a school text book.
The other challenge was that we couldn’t set-up any kind of photo-shoot. We were all socially distanced so we didn’t even get to meet the production team, let alone the cast.
Illustration was the obvious solution to that problem, and a scribbled, doodled illustrative style also felt tonally appropriate. The scribbles meant we could be playful and cheeky whilst also alluding to the more austere atmosphere of a school. And the heart diagram motif was also a way to nod to the subject of relationships.
Once we’d settled on a the right concept for the project and worked out the right composition, we developed the final rendering and colours. We also finalised the background of a graffitied desk further adding to the sense of being in a classroom, and bringing the textbook concept to life.
As well as working towards a traditional poster, we ensured that the design was flexible enough for the website and social media uses.
We were proud to work in flexible new ways to create a striking poster for a vibrant and important theatrical project.