Face Front – STI Boards

Performance of Face Front Inclusive Theatre's Sex FM Play
Performance of Face Front Inclusive Theatre’s Sex FM Play

I’ve worked with Face Front since 1997. In fact they gave me one of my first commercial design jobs, a one colour flyer for their ‘Who Cares?’ play.

They contacted me just before Christmas 2012 because they needed to in someway visualise the relationships between sexual partners and how STIs can spread – but in a fun visual way.

This piece of work would to be part of a performance for secondary school children. The performances would take place in variable locations the and so the board(s) and any graphics had to be large enough so that the audience members at the back would be able to see it.

Additionally they had to be strong but light as they would be packed up after every performance and transported to the next venue in the back of a van.

I spent time working out the graphics – simplifying them down and down, then printing them out and putting the test disc at one end of the house and viewing it from as far away as I could.

After thinking through whether to make things stick to one board or move (bits could could lost or a mechanism broken) I came up with the idea of using four images which could be revealed in sequence as the facilitators spoke the following lines:

“Take a look at this diagram. Here are two people who’ve had
unprotected sex. This person has only ever slept with this person.
However, in the past this person has previously had unprotected sex
with these two people. This one has had unprotected sex with three
people and this one has had unprotected sex with two people and so on
and so on… Any of these people might have a sexually transmitted
infection and these two would never know.”

Adding to this I worked out that the images could be revealed in a way that would minimise manipulation, look quite stylish and theatrical – like a modern day fan dance. To help sell the concept I made a small mock-up, filmed myself manipulating the boards on my iPhone and emailed it to Face Front for feedback.

After Christmas I contacted FastSigns in Enfield about fabricating the design. They did and excellent job, the boards were beautiful. They were quite expensive to manufacture and this forced the job to go a little over the anticipated budget but they are light enough and robust enough for handling by the facilitators and for repeated use.

A couple of months later I was told that the designs were even getting their own round of applause during the performance – the first time they could remember a prop getting such feedback.