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Grimsby student wins Royal Opera House Design Challenge award

On Wednesday 8 June 2022, the Royal Opera House celebrated the 2022 winners of its prestigious Design Challenge – a nation-wide competition that provides students with invaluable, practical insight into technical and production practice, encouraging them to apply their understanding to a professional context, and develop the skills required to embark on a career in technical theatre craft. 

Launched in 2011, and open to anyone studying Art and Design from GCSE to Foundation Degree level, the challenge requires applicants to try their hand designing sets, costumes, wigs, makeup or a marketing campaign for a designated opera or ballet production. Students research and produce design prototypes in response to their chosen Director’s Vision, relaying their ideas and process in a 90-minute portfolio pitch.   

Caitlyn McIlwrath, Lily Boyington, Ellie Coldwell and Amelia Williams, Design Challenge ©2022 ROH. Photograph by Rachel Cherry

This year’s prizegiving event, hosted in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Foyer, celebrated the Challenge’s 2022 winners, tasked with creating designs for Benjamin Britten’s Peter GrimesWilliam Chan, from East Sussex College, Lewes (Set Design); Evelyn Pope from The Broxbourne School, (Hair, Wigs and Make-up); Lily Boyington from Bournemouth School for Girls (Costume Design); Samantha Dent from Grimsby Institute (Marketing Strategy and Design); and Caitlyn McIlwrath from Belfast Metropolitan College (Marketing Strategy and Design). Over 500 students entered, from 20 schools and colleges across the UK. The exhibition of winners’ work will be open to the public Thursday 9 – Wednesday 22 June 2022.  

Lily Boyington, Design Challenge ©2022 ROH. Photograph by Rachel Cherry

Work by all finalists was seen and scrutinized by judging panels of professional designers and creatives at the ROH – including several senior staff members in the Royal Opera House’s technical and production teams. Award-winners in each category were announced on Friday 22 April 2022. Chief Executive Alex Beard presented the students with their awards.  

Kat Raffle, Design Challenge ©2022 ROH. Photograph by Rachel Cherry

Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation, said: 

‘The Royal Opera House is thrilled to have hosted the winners of the 11th year of our flagship Design Challenge. Having spent the day at ROH with our professionals and in their host departments, young winners from across the country were given awards. Each of them expressed real originality, skill and creativity. We hope this will prove life-changing and be their entry into the imaginative worlds of ballet and opera.’ 

Design Challenge ©2022 ROH. Photograph by Rachel Cherry

The 2022/23 Design Challenge The Magic Flute will launch with an online tutor briefing event on Wednesday 22 June 2022.   


Winners’ Exhibition: Thursday 9 – Wednesday 22 June 2022 
For more information, visit: ROH Learning Platform – Design Challenge 021/22 
To get involved next year, email: design.challenge@roh.org.uk 


Set Design  

Winner Fe And Director’s Choice William Chan  
Highly Commended FE George Bayly  
Highly Commended Secondary Sam Ashcroft  
East Sussex College, Lewes, North Hertfordshire College 

Hair Wigs And Make-up Design  

Winner FE Evelyn Pope  
Highly Commended Fe Ellie Coldwell  
The Broxbourne School, Harlow College  

Costume Design  

Winner FE Lily Boyington  
Highly Commended FE Kat Raffle  
Winner Secondary Charlie Jones  
Highly Commended Secondary Amelia Williams  
Bournemouth School for Girls, City of Liverpool College, North Hertfordshire College, Eastbourne College 

Marketing Strategy & Design  

Winner HE Caitlin Mcilwrath  
Winner FE Samantha Dent  
Highly Commended Itamar Burstein Lachman  
Belfast Metropolitan College, Grimsby Institute, East Sussex College, Lewes  

Commended by the judges and invited to exhibit: Maia CaltonJamie VandersluisJemimah KamauRachel MccombImogen Symonds and Zoe Bennett  
East Sussex College, Lewes, Harlow College, The Broxbourne School, North West Regional College Limavady Campus, Eastbourne College, The Hertfordshire & Essex High School 

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