Mud, blood and stumps: Lavinia's transformation

  • Blood station

    Blood station
    Behind the scenes of Titus Andronicus, the Wigs and Make-Up team have laid out everything that will be needed backstage in the Swan Theatre for quick changes, when an actor has a very short time to exit the stage after one scene and change from one costume to the next, before they are called back on for the next scene.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • Lavinia's transformation begins

    Lavinia's transformation begins
    Shakespeare's character Lavinia, played by Rose Reynolds, begins the play in a long blond wig, looking very innocent and vulnerable. Once she is raped and has her hands cut off, the Wigs and Make-up Team have around two minutes to transform her before she is due back onstage.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • Wig-making

    Making a wig
    The wigs for our shows are made in Stratford-upon-Avon, using natural hair, by our Wigs and Make-Up team. Each hair is individually threaded onto the scalp - the average wig takes a week for one person to make.

    Pictured is a member of the team making a light brown wig for A Mad World My Masters, but Lavinia's long blond wig in Titus Andronicus was made using the same technique.

  • Blond wig removed

    Rose's blond wig is removed and she changes dress
    With the help of her dressers and the make-up department, Rose changes out of her first white dress, into a more tattered version, ripped and covered in blood and mud stains.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • Blackened mouth

    Blackened mouth
    Rose chews Blackjack sweets to make her mouth black, where her tongue has been cut out. The make-up team will then add make up and blood.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • Pulled out hair

    Pulled-out hair
    Rose's hair was flattened down to fit under the wig that she wore at the beginning of the play. Now the wig has been removd, her hair is adjusted to look as if Lavinia's hair has been pulled out and hacked off, and the stumps which have replaced her hands are put on.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • Dirt and blood

    Dirt and blood
    The Wigs and Make-Up team dab Rose's face, arms and shoulders with dirt and dried blood.

    Different types of blood of different consistencies, depending on the effect that needs to be achieved. A watery blood is used if it's going to be pumped out, so it flows easily. Thicker blood is used for smaller wounds, such as grazes. To make the blood darker, we add syrup to it, and to thicken it we add cellulose.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • Missing hands

    Missing hands
    Lavinia's stumps, where her hands have been cut off, are wrapped with blond hair, made to look as if her hair has been pulled out and wrapped around her stumps.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • More blood!

    More blood!
    The Wigs and Make-Up team add loose hair to her stumps and pulling more blood through them.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • The final touches

    The final touches
    With just seconds to go until Rose is due back onstage, the final make-up is added around her mouth – the blood from where her tongue was cut out.

    Photo by Gina Print

  • The show goes on

    The show goes on
    Rose goes back on stage, but Wigs and Make-Up retrieve her original long blond wig, now dishevelled as she has been dragged around in it during the rape scene. The wig needs to be tidied up and brushed through so it's ready for the next performance.

    Read actor Rose Reynolds' blog

Titus Andronicus

by William Shakespeare

Swan Theatre
16 May - 26 October 2013

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Teaching Shakespeare