I am an imaginative theatre, opera and event designer with a flair for creating vivid, animated sets. My background is in scenic art and illustration; I trained at Bristol Old Vic, and I have 18 years’ experience working in and alongside a variety of companies, venues, scales and disciplines. My work has a vibrant, illustrative quality and I’m a skilled scenic artist.
I am passionate about transforming spaces, and the possibility of form, fabric, light and colour to tell a story. Using the transformational quality of design for production I have created memorable, thought-provoking backdrops for events, workshops, dinners, photo shoots and launches. I have a reputation for motivating people to create excellent work and I’m known for my meticulous attention to detail and tenacity in achieving a shared vision.
I have been nominated for several OFFIEs for best design, and my work has been exhibited at the V&A Museum as part of The Society of British Theatre Designers exhibition, Gormley to Gaga: Transformation and Revelation. Design for Performance. At The Vaults Festival 2016; ‘Orator’ received ‘Pick of the Week’ award.
“Innovatively staged . . . Allen’s mock-Chandler-esque thrillers set in 1940s New York look impressively chic, thanks to designer Charlie Cridlan…”
“Designer Charlie Cridlan neglects Wilton’s high, proscenium stage and builds instead a rhomboid playing area beneath it. She thereby achieves a valuable studio-like intimacy for David Mamet’s slightly stripped down, faithful version of Uncle Vanya”
“Charlie Cridlan’s brilliant set (a village hall being prepared for an Ascension Day play), and costume design added a suitably Stanley Spencer-ish touch to proceedings . . . Proof of the transfiguring power of art (the production)”
I thrive on variety, the potential for transformation of a space to suit a narrative. I explore ideas around theme, period and place creating a concept for the production using the intricate scale models I make to show how the space will be used. Exceptional attention to detail is one of the hallmarks of my work, enhancing storytelling using texture, style and colour.
“Charlie Cridlan’s set consists of little more than a chair, two bookshelves and a pile of boxes. There is no need for anything else and the simplicity adds to a smooth and powerful production.”
“The set mirrors the fractures in the relationships of these four people with a few simple but powerful devices and further credit should rest with Charlie Cridlan’s design, for its effective and flexible use of space.”
Designing clothes to tell a story, I employ fabric, form and colour to subtly complement the narrative. I am adept at adapting my costume design ideas to suit and fit the cast, completing their transformation. As an experienced designer I am meticulous about meeting the varying practical demands of theatre, opera and photoshoots and their differing needs; scale or practicality.
“Charlie Cridlan’s design is the first piece of these pies we get to admire and it winds up being more than apt. In-fact you’re liable to admire its concise versatility. Costumes in the plays seem to morph with their characters, though they take a slightly more contemporary twist as the comely Helen is replaced in the trilogy by daughter Electra.”
“Charlie Cridlan successfully avoided the temptation to play up visual absurdity and thus created for us a stylish, nonsensical world within which the language took centre stage.”
I find the imaginative, spacial quality of my work directly transferable to design of performance in non-theatre spaces. I think in precise detail about form, environment and its effect on people, which has led me to create dynamic, imaginative environments for events in the Corporate and Heritage sectors. I am often asked to respond to a brief or theme for events, and have explored ideas around Leadership, Digital Disruption and Networking in my event designs.
I make full use of my theatre background to create innovative, compelling environments using theatrical techniques which focus participants’ attention and stimulate conversation. I consider how people take in information and ask the elements in my designs for events and exhibitions to help prompt thoughts, questions and ideas.
I am well connected, with an experienced and reliable network of lighting companies, sound technicians and other creative practitioners who complement and realise my designs.
“Charlie provided Creation Box London the outlook, experience & flair for their InBox event, at The Vaults, Waterloo. Working with Charlie on bringing this event to life was a brilliant experience that will now be a yearly collaboration.”
“I have been three times to a three day event at Sheepdrove Organic Farm for senior leaders. Each time, I’ve been amazed at how the place has been transformed by Charlie’s vision and ingenuity. She has a real eye for how to use 3-D space to dramatic effect and brings great flair and imagination to the challenges of the venue. What’s most amazing is that over the course of the event, she uses lighting, props and clever touches to change the look and feel of the space as the focus and the content changes. As a participant; it feels as if the space we are in is living and vibrant, as if we are being accompanied on our journey.”
“Charlie is phenomenal to work with – she brings a true creative vision to our events, which has become a defining element of the Wavelength brand. Our clients’ notice and comment on the theatrical, dynamic yet practical spaces she creates. She is flexible when I need her to be but drives her vision through in the face of budget and/or space constraints. Her attention to detail means that every aspect of the design is realised and always beautifully executed.”
“I’ve worked with Charlie for many years and its clear she understands the role physical space plays in behaviour. The environments she designs force those who work in them to not just feel different but also to think different, helping them to push aside the everyday which can get in the way of thinking deeply and creatively.”
“Just wanted to say again what an amazing job you did with the venue. It was surprising, playful, beautiful and practical. Perfect. Another top class job done. Lots of the Members commented on it – the venues are definitely an important part of Connect’s magic.”
I facilitate a variety of education workshops, ranging from puppet and costume making with younger children, to bespoke design skills workshops for degree and post graduate students. I have created bespoke set design workshops for GCSE and A-Level pupils giving them the experience of working in a model box, to explore the design for the national curriculum set texts studied.
I have been a visiting Designer at: Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Rose Bruford College, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where I work with the design and technical students to realise a public production. Part of the brief as Designer, is to pass on experience and hands-on skills and techniques including; model making, costume drawing, scenic painting and working with a costume maker. I am thrilled to inspire the next generation.
“On our flagship Careers in Theatre programme Charlie worked amazingly in collaboration with young people of broad range of ages, to create exciting youth-led design concepts.Charlie is professional, sensitive to the needs of young people and a great team worker.”
“I just wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you so much for running a Theatre Design workshop for our Y13s. Many of the students have made a point of finding me over the last few days to say how much further their learning about the possibilities of set design have moved on, following your work with them. The final models they produced are incredibly creative and they could not have achieved such work without your input. The work you had done on planning the workshop for ‘Blood Wedding’ was evident throughout the two hour session and the materials and examples of your own work that you kindly brought in, inspired and motivated them. In my capacity as Head of Drama I have employed many professionals on a freelance basis – few have had such an impact on the students. I feel confident that the work the students did with you will raise their achievement for this unit of the A2 written exam. I hope you are around next year for the next set of students”