Friday, 10 December 2010

Shakespeare at The Old Vic

 Image from The Oxford Times
Image from London

 I spent the summer of 2010 dressing at The Old Vic. It's a beautiful theatre in Waterloo in South East London. I have worked there before and count the two permanent members of the wardrobe team as good friends. The bridge project is a joint venture with a Brooklyn theatre. This year they produced two Shakespeares, The Tempest and As you like it. With a large cast made up of British and American actors. The shows started in New York, toured several venues around the world then came to London.  After that it had one more venue in Northern Spain which I was able to work on too. 

The set of As you like it.

Both productions were set in a nonspecific period. 'As you like it' had turn of the century evening dress in the early court scenes, 1950's cotton dresses and shabby looking suits in the forest scenes. For the winter scenes many large coats and shawls were worn. This was rather unfortunate for the actors as the summer was a hot one. 

Likewise The Tempest had a mixture of styles. Evening dress, military uniforms and spirits in grey suits, shirtless and shoeless. Ariel had a huge and heavy pair of iron wings to wear. It took two people to hold them while he fastened himself into the harness and the same once he had edged carefully off stage and took them off again.

Rehearsals for The Tempest

As you like it ended its run in London but The Tempest went on to Aviles in Northern Spain. I was lucky enough to go along too. With only a few polite words of Spanish and dressers who spoke only a little English it was tricky trying to explain our requirements but the dressers were experienced and all went well. Aviles was holding its annual festival which we were part of. Also the Spanish premier of Woody Allen's latest film was on in the same week and we were all invited to the film and party. My one and only experience on the red carpet was great fun particularly being snapped by the Spanish paparrazzi because they had no idea whether we were important or not. 

There was very little English spoken in Aviles and the town seemed a little bemused by the presence of us all but the play was surtitled and seemed to be appreciated. I had a wonderful time in this medieval town and very fond memories of the plays and my colleagues for that summer.

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