Whispers from the Wings


October 30, 2013

8 miles of clothesOctober 22. Up betimes and by Thameslink to Hendon. There met with Christopher Oram (Designer), Stephanie (Costume Supervisor), Sarah (RSC Costume Dept.) and Reshpal (Costumier) who are waiting in a fitting room by a rack groaning with Tudor costumes.

It's a vast store crammed with layer upon layer of amazing costumes where paupers are pressed against princes, where — somewhere on those eight miles of rail - you will find a spaceman, a Spartan and a spook.

Here a label, 'Cumberbatch'; there a label, 'Blanchett'.

The detail and workmanship on some of the costumes, in these days of high definition cameras, can be stunning.

Coverage of the body
Stripped to the pants, I turn away from the wall-sized mirror because it's distressing to see that my waist line seems to be expanding as fast as Henry VIII's. The first costume wouldn't even do up - which was good, because it didn't speak to me like the next one did.

The second costume felt and looked great even before I'd done up the buttons (actually achieved with some difficulty, but they will be able to let it out a tidge). The material is a lovely burgundy satin which will take the light wonderfully. The top coat thing has masses of heavy material which swishes around very effectively with the merest turn of my body.

I'm totally sold on it, and everybody approves - which is a good job because I have to be in Clapham for rehearsal in an hour.

I've received my first eBay religious reliquary in the post, with which I want to decorate my costume. Hilary Mantel often refers to the clinking clanking relics upon which the Duke of Norfolk seems to depend.

This little locket contains a piece of material that once belonged to Saint Bernadette of Lourdes - apparently. It's a great deal smaller than I thought and would be barely visible from the front row, but I'm pleased to have it, and will have something to cling onto in rehearsal.

Emergency coverage
Of course all the parts in any production must be understudied, lest any illness or accident (I'm clinging to my relic) mean an actor goes 'off'. We had a briefing this week about the RSC cover policy and process.

The spirit of ensemble work finds its perfect expression in the public understudy runs that take place soon after the plays open. The theatre is always full for these performances and every member of the cast tends to get involved, even if they don't have a specific understudy obligation.

Some of us will be playing our principle role and some of us will be carrying on a tray of goblets and standing humbly in the background.

. . . and coverage on telly
The BBC came in to shoot a bit of rehearsal on Friday for a story about the plaque that Hilary Mantel is unveiling in Putney where Thomas Cromwell used to live.

We have a few big scenes still to block, so we're going to come in on Saturday morning to finish things off. I have two shows on Saturdays, so that will make it quite a long day. I have a matinée on Sunday, and then . . . rabbit stew! A butcher has been showing Ben Miles how Cromwell should skin a rabbit. Well, it would be a pity to waste it.

Image: 8 miles of clothes!

by Nick Day  |  No comments yet

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