Award-winning designer creates dazzling set for show at Scarborough's Stephn Joseph Theatre

TK Hay, theatre designer who has designed the set for Constellations at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, ScarboroughTK Hay, theatre designer who has designed the set for Constellations at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
TK Hay, theatre designer who has designed the set for Constellations at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

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A dazzling and innovative set design has been created for the next show at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre by an award-winning young designer.

TK Hay, who was named as Best Designer in the Stage Debut Awards 2022, has used more than one-and-half miles of glowing fibre optic cable to create a web of light which surrounds actors Carla Harrison-Hodge and Emilio Iannucci in Nick Payne’s Constellations.

The show looks at the ‘what ifs’ that arise from a single meeting, following a couple through a multitude of possibilities depending on the decisions they make.

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TK Hay was inspired by two installation artists to create a set that’s believed to be unlike anything ever seen in a theatre production before: Chiharu Shiota from Japan, who creates huge and intricate networks of thread and yarn, and Italian ‘artist of pure light’ Carlo Bernardini, who uses fibre optics, prisms and sculptural elements to form laser-like geometric installations.

He says: “What we wanted was a design that responded to the action of the play, so the direction from the start was very visually focussed.

“I was thinking about the connection between the two protagonists and how across all these different realities they are somehow managing to connect with one another.

“I pitched to Paul Robinson, the director, that we took Shiota’s and Bernadini’s work and fused it together – I thought it would look incredible.”

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Paul Robinson said: “TK’s design is absolutely remarkable: we’re pushing at not just what this play can do, but also what theatre form can do with what he’s come up with.”

The set design has created its own challenges for the Stephen Joseph Theatre production manager Denzil Hebditch and technical manager Tigger Johnson.

Denzil said: “Working with fibre optics in this way wasn't something we had done before and we were concerned that we would struggle to achieve TK's vision but the results have been pretty spectacular.”

Constellations won the Best New Play award at the 2012 Evening Standard Awards, making Nick Payne the youngest-ever winner of the award.

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It was also nominated for several Olivier Awards, including for Stephen Joseph Theatre associate Artist Simon Slater’s music score, which will be used in the Stephen Joseph production.

The Stephen Joseph production of Constellations also features lighting design by Jane Lalljee and movement direction by Jennifer Kay.

Nick also writes for film and TV. His debut series Wanderlust starred Toni Collette and Steven Mackintosh as Joy and Alan, a couple in search of ways to save their marriage.

Nick adapted Julian Barnes's The Sense Of An Ending for BBC Films which was released in 2017 with Jim Broadbent starring and Ritesh Batra directing.

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It can be seen in the Round at the Stephen Joseph Theatre from now until Saturday November 12. Tickets are available from the box office on 01723 370541 and online at

Review of Constellations on page 40.