Royal Conservatoire design graduate wins sought-after Linbury Prize

A Royal Conservatoire design graduate has won a prestigious competition celebrating the finest emerging designers in the worlds of dance, opera and theatre.

Basia Binkowska has been named winner of the prestigious Linbury Prize for Stage Design in its 30th anniversary year. Basia, who graduated in 2016 from the BA Production Arts and Design programme at Scotland’s national conservatoire, is the first graduate of the institution to win the biennial award. Fellow Royal Conservatoire graduate Mika Handley BA (Technical and Production Arts) was a finalist in the competition in 2007.

Basia will design Othello/Macbeth for the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre after her creative work impressed the judging panel of renowned designers Tom Piper, Nicky Shaw and Rae Smith. Her success comes after she recently completed a year-long traineeship with the Royal Shakespeare Company, on top of work with British Youth Opera.

Ros Maddison, Head of Production at the Royal Conservatoire, said: “Huge congratulations to Basia on this phenomenal achievement. The Linbury Prize for Stage Design is the most coveted accolade for emerging designers in the UK and, building on her internship at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2016/17, this honour has placed Basia at the centre of this highly competitive part of the theatre industry.”

Previous winners of the Linbury Prize include Tim Hatley, whose work includes Timon of Athens at the National Theatre, Spamalot and Shrek the Musical in the West End and on Broadway; Anthony Ward, whose credits include Sweeney Todd (Chichester and the West End) and Headlong’s Enron, and Vicki Mortimer, whose work for the National Theatre includes Othello and The Last of the Haussmans.

The four winners of each category receive a cash prize together with a professional commission to design a production for a major company. Companies that have collaborated with the prize in recent years include Birmingham Opera, Headlong, National Theatre of Scotland, Lyric Hammersmith and Scottish Dance Theatre.

Judge Tom Piper said: “The Linbury Prize remains the most important theatre prize open to recent graduates of UK design schools. We get over 90 applicants and it is a testament to the depth of talent in the students and the extraordinarily dedicated teaching abilities of colleges that the judges have such a tough time selecting the final 12.

“We are really excited this year to have a range of different performance forms in the commissioning companies, which we hope will demonstrate the deep range of skills and ground-breaking ideas which the young designers bring to bear on their projects.”

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