© Sohan Ariel Hayes

Zoë Atkinson

Designer - Set/Costume

Management: Australasia

The Flying Dutchman NBR New Zealand Opera
“Zoë Atkinson’s design is ambitious to say the least and a great achievement. The satisfying integration of design and action proves neither distracting nor dull. At its heart is the conspicuous manipulation of space, similar to the imaginative scope of the text; from the cramped quarters of a ship to a public working house, the visual (and metaphorical) frame continuously contracts and expands”.
The Lumière Review Michael Boyes October 14 2013

 “The set design was impressive and imposing, particularly the huge sail which is the main curtain along with the huge wall which became the Dutchman’s ship”
John Daly-People October  21 2013

Elektra West Australian Opera
“All this is set on the outside of set designer Zoe Atkinson’s high castle walls, a simple yet immensely powerful statement.”
June Hallam Perth Now February 9 2012 

The Girl of the Golden West State Opera of South Australia
“The use of colour throughout the production is clever and effective; the miners’ greyscale and sepia costumes stand in stark contrast to Minnie’s blinding yellow dress.”
Edward Joyner ArtsHub August 31, 2009

Lawn for Splinter Group and Sasha Waltz & Guests in a touring production for Stuttgart Tanzplattform, 2006
“… what happens within Zoë Atkinson’s simultaneously realistic yet somehow surreal set is like a series of physical and imaginative miracles.”  The Australian

“Atkinson’s set is integral to Lawn’s success, its bleak surface at times revealing the horrors of history as well as the dramas and delusions of the present…. Lawn leaves its audience with images that disturb and delight, and definitely deserves a repeat viewing. It will undoubtedly become a festival favourite…” 
Real Time

The Importance of Being Earnest for London Barbican BITE/Brisbane Powerhouse/Ridiculusmus UK
“Add an ironing board and a spray pack of windex, a pop-up toaster and an intricate patterning of imitation Persian carpets, and you have a gorgeous set for which Oscar Wilde, if he were living today, would surely applaud designer Zoë Atkinson”
Stage Diary

“Jude Kelly’s direction is inspired, Zoë Atkinson’s set a nightmare of patterned wallpaper and malfunctioning gadgets… it is the funniest thing to be seen in London.” Times Literary Supplement

Uncle Vanya for Black Swan Theatre Company
“In those telltale tufts of desert grass pushing stealthily through the rotting homestead floor, stage designer Zoë Atkinson has made visual Chekhov’s leitmotiv: that life is transient, often disappointing but irrepressible.” The Australian

Snark – The Way of the Bravest for The Carry Grant Players/Maison de la Culture de Nevers et Neivers for 2006 Sydney Festival
“… a stroke of pure genius.” The West Australian

Zoë studied scenography at The Prague Academy of The Performing Arts, The International Institute of Figurative Theatre (Czech Republic), and at the Institute International de la Marionette in France, under Josef Svoboda. Since returning to Australia in 1997 she has designed over sixty productions for theatre, dance, puppetry and opera. 

In 2016 Zoë designed HOME, the Perth International Arts Festival’s 2016 opening spectacle, which celebrated 40,000 years of Western Australian culture, and brought together some of our most celebrated writers, artists and musicians. She also designed the Malthouse Theatre and Black Swan co-production Picnic at Hanging Rock; which opened in Melbourne before a season in Perth, and at the Lyceum Theatre in the 2017 Edinburgh Festival. 

Zoë’s 2017 designs include PIAF's opening event Boorna Waanginy as Artistic Associate and Designer, and the Tom Waits and William Burroughs opera The Black Rider for Malthouse Theatre and Victorian Opera. She has also collaborated with English artist Amy Sharrocks on a Western Australian iteration of The Museum of Water for PIAF. 

Zoë's work in opera includes The Flying Dutchman for New Zealand Opera and Elektra for The Western Australian Opera Company with Thin Ice, both directed by Matt Lutton; and the costumes for the Opera Conference production La Fanciulla del West, which was directed by Nigel Jamieson with seasons in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. Recent theatre work includes On The Misconception of Oedipus with Malthouse Theatre and Signs of Life for Black Swan Theatre. Other shows for Black Swan Theatre include Plainsong, Away, Copenhagen, The Unexpected Man, The Carnivores, Uncle Vanya, The Crucible and Jandamarra

Some of Zoë's other works of note include The Splinter Group’s landmark production Lawn (Brisbane Powerhouse/Berlin Schaubuhne), which won three Green Room Awards, and was nominated for three Helpmann Awards,); UK duo Ridiculusmus’ Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Jude Kelly OBE, commissioned by the London Barbican BITE Festival; and the Carry Grant Players’ Hunting of the Snark (Maison de la Culture de Nevers et Neviere, Sydney Festival 2006, Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionettes, Charleville-Mezieres 2008), which she co-devised and designed with a small rabble of serious artists seeking respite from contemporary puppetry. 

In 2006 Zoë was the recipient of the Helpmann Award for Best Costume Design for the Malthouse Theatre/Black Swan co-production The Odyssey. She has also received a Melbourne Green Room Award for Best Theatre Production for On The Misconception of Oedipus, which she co-devised with Tom Wright and Matt Lutton, and designed (Malthouse Theatre, 2012, nominated for every award in its category); Equity Guild Awards for Best Designer (The Crucible, Black Swan), twice for Best Production (Plainsong, Black Swan and Skin Tight, Perth Theatre Company), and the Dance Australia Critics Survey Award for Best New Work (The Drover’s Wives, Steamworks Arts). In 2000 Zoë was awarded the Young Australian of the Year for the Arts. 

Zoë’s work outside of theatre design includes co-curating and designing The Million Puppet Project Exhibition for the 2008 UNIMA World Puppetry Congress and Festival, which engaged artists, sculptors and community groups from over thirty different countries in one of the world’s most extensive exhibitions of contemporary puppets. Between 2000 and 2001 she was Head of Design at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. 

Zoë lives in Perth with her husband Jiri and their two sons Matty, who is six, and Tobias, who just turned ten. They all enjoy wandering into the wilderness together on regular hiking adventures, and are planning to walk from Dwellingup to Albany in 2018. 

Zoé Atkinson is managed by Sarah Thomas:  sarah.thomas@artsmanagement.com.au and
Sarah Holloway: 
sarah@artsmanagement.com.au
 February 2017
This biography is for general information purposes only and not for publication.
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