Designing Hamlet

Hamlet 2008 - Model box (1:25 scale model of the set). Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC

Extract from the Rehearsal Scrapbook in the 2008 production programme:

The design process begins with the director and designer discussing their individual responses to the play and then working together to establish the world in which the play will be set. We look through numerous paintings, photographs and any other visual aids which might provide inspiration for the set and costumes.

In the case of Hamlet, it was established from a very early stage that it would be a mirrored world and we then began to explore ideas around this.

Next comes the design model. Initially this is a very rough version in white card. This is used to work out if the design is workable (and affordable!) and allows us to develop a number of different design solutions to any problems that may arise.

Once refined, this is then followed by a very detailed finished model, with many of the props and furniture modelled to absolute scale (1:25). This is a vital tool, which helps everyone from actors to lighting designers to composers to the workshops to visualise the director and designer's vision of the piece. It is integral to the process of communication.

From this finished model, sets of detailed 'working drawings' are prepared in order to work out the mechanics and actually build the set. All the carpentry, metal work and painting are processed by the RSC workshops to produce the finished piece, including building specific scenic props (like the chandeliers in this production).

Written by Robert Jones, Designer
Photograph of the model box by Ellie Kurttz © RSC

Buy DVD: Hamlet 2008

Hamlet 2008 - DVD front cover

Download the Rehearsal Scrapbook (PDF 1.2MB)

Hamlet 2008 - Rehearsal scrapbook

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Teaching Shakespeare