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This gallery contains photos taken by Tom Piper, designer of Michael Boyd's Histories Cycle (2007). We asked Tom to explain what the images show...
In order to best communicate their ideas to the director, designers build a 1:25 scale model. Here, in early December 2005, Tom uses a model of the Courtyard Theatre to explore some rough ideas for the tower with models made of white card.
'The Histories set would be the first to go into the new Courtyard. The space was still unfinished when I was designing. I assumed that there would be space under the arch, and the actors would play on the thrust stage into the auditorium.'
Photo by Tom Piper © RSC
Adding together the tower and stairs with the rust colour, plus ladders to the side. 'I was worried that this design was looking too complicated...'
Early January 2006: Using the idea of copying the interior of the theatre, Tom creates a back wall which is a copy of the exterior of the theatre - corrugated steel. These designs, including trapdoor, dark floor and ladders, were used in the shows.Photo by Tom Piper © RSC
This model shows people flying in the space and a cage flown in at an angle.
In this production of Henry V, we meet Katharine as she is lowered from the roof ('flown in') inside a picture frame.
Tom says: 'A framed picture was historically a way of introducing someone. For example, arranged marriages would start by swapping pictures of the people. We flew in a real person in a picture - then they 'came to life' in the next scene.'
Tom used a bridge to create tension between the two ends of the thrust stage.
'The bridge can create a stand-off. Whoever was in the tower has a slight 'king of the castle' advantage.'Photo by Tom Piper © RSC
Finally, in March 2006, Tom's work on the model was nearing completion.
'This is pretty much the finished set. This design for the tower was inspired by an industrial gas expander. I matched the grill on the tower to the gallery fronts.'
Next, the RSC workshop team would turn this model into a full-sized set.Tom still had plenty of work to do tweaking and adapting the design as the set was constructed, fitted in the theatre, and then used in preview performances.Photo by Tom Piper © RSC
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