Roberta Volpe is a set designer and scenic artist from Italy. She volunteered as the set designer for TEDxWandsworth 2016 and enjoyed it so much, she has now returned for this year’s event. Here, she shares her passion for TEDx, the challenges of set design and what gives her a positive outlook on life.
Why did you get involved?
I find TEDx so inspiring. In only 15-20 minutes, you can learn something new and open your mind to infinite topics.
How has being involved in TEDxWandsworth benefitted you?
Professionally, it has helped me a lot. I am challenged as a designer because I have to create a space that doesn’t distract from the speakers, who are the soul of TEDx.
Personally, I have met lots of wonderful people who I still consider my friends. Everybody has a shared love of TEDx and it is a privilege to be involved.
You have won awards for your set design – could you tell us a little more?
I was the set designer and scenic artist for a musical called On the Twentieth Century and my set came 3rd in The Shinfield Players Scenic Award at the National Operatic Dramatic Art (NODA ) London Awards for 2017.
I think London is the greatest city in which to work in terms of theatre, so to be 3rd is really great and next time I’ll be first!
What sums up happiness for you?
Being in harmony with myself, listening to my inner voice and following what I feel. It is not easy to be honest with ourselves; sometimes we need to be really brave.
I am a Buddhist, which always gives me a positive way of looking at things.
What would your superpower be?
Reading minds. I would love to know what people think and feel. When I was little, I often asked myself if I was the only one that felt fear, or strong emotions. Being able to read minds would help us better understand each other.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, is a Buddhist philosopher, educator, author, and anti-nuclear activist. I chose him as a mentor because he makes me believe that peace is possible if we start from ourselves, with what he calls a “human revolution”.
What would you change about the world to make it a better place?
I would avoid definitions of state, nationality and country. We are human beings before anything else – it doesn’t matter where we come from.
What one piece of advice would you give to anyone thinking of volunteering for TEDxWandsworth?
If you love watching TEDx talks, you will love working backstage at a TEDx event even more. Take a leap: it is a great experience to work with people like you and build unforgettable memories.
What’s your favourite memory from last year’s TEDxWandsworth event?
The day of the event. I felt real team spirit, all our effort came together and I felt so proud to be part TEDxWandsworth.
You know that you have helped to build an inspiring experience for other people – what could be better? There was no question that I would get involved again this year.
Interview by Rosy Edwards