Charlecote Park, a stately home just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, provided the inspiration for the setting of Christopher Luscombe's 2014 productions of Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won (Much Ado About Nothing). In this photo we can see the director, Christopher Luscombe (left), and designer, Simon Higlett (middle) surveying the impressive Tudor gatehouse which is about 80 yards east of the main house.
The gatehouse has similar architectural elements to the house with its angle turrets and ornamented parapet, features which were replicated in the productions' sets. The clock, visible in the top left turret, is Victorian and its chimes helped the estate workers to be punctual.
Here we can see how the RSC's Scenic Workshop has re-created the distinctive pierced decoration on the parapet of Charlecote. The Scenic Workshop is based in a large warehouse on the edge of Stratford-upon-Avon, where a team of craftsmen build, decorate and assemble most of the components for the RSC's sets as well as bringing props to life.
Using detailed to-scale drawings and plans based on the designer's model box, the set components are constructed and decorated before being installed on the stage prior to the technical rehearsals.
The 'fit-up' is a crucial stage in the life cycle of a production when the set, lighting, and other technical equipment is installed in the theatre. This usually happens over four days to enable technical rehearsals to take place.
In this photo, the Charlecote set is being installed in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the crew are working on the floor platform which slides up and down stage. The turrets frame the set and are connected by the decorated parapet. The designer and Scenic Workshop have recreated the clock we saw in the first image of the real Charlecote gatehouse. Behind the parapet is a porch with a coat of arms like the original at Charlecote, which is dedicated to Elizabeth I. Right at the back is a church interior.
'In my chamber-window lies a book: bring it hither to me in the orchard.'
Benedick, Act 2, Scene 3
The same attention to detail evident in the exterior sets can also be seen in the interior décor. Using the library at Charlecote as a source, the Scenic Workshop recreated the leather bound, gilt embellished spines of books.
In this image, we can see some of the book spines which fronted the 'bookcase' of an interior set. The titles are authentic: Saunders's 'Scientific and Literary Treasury' is a multi-volume set published in the 1860s. The scenic artists have replicated the scuffing and staining that affects genuine old leather books.
On 4 March 2015 Love's Labour's Won was broadcast live from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to cinemas worldwide. The production was also broadcast into schools as part of the RSC's Education resources. This photo shows the title page of the camera script for part two of the production.
The filming was directed by Robin Lough. The other play in Christopher Luscombe's double-bill, Love's Labour's Lost, was broadcast live on 11 February 2015. Learn more about the RSC's 'Live From Stratford-upon-Avon' and Encore screenings at onscreen.rsc.org.uk/
This image of a page from the camera script for the live broadcast of Love's Labour's Won in March 2015 features the moment in Act 2 Scene 3 when Benedick, hiding in a Christmas tree, overhears Claudio and Don Pedro discussing how much Beatrice loves him.
In the left margin, we can see how the numbered camera cues are aligned with the text. The hilarious moment when Don Pedro fixes the tree lights giving the concealed Benedick an electric shock is interpreted for camera 2 as 'MS BEN IN STAR SLOWLY ZOOMING OUT TO MLS', which means a medium length camera shot of Benedick in the star at the top of the tree, zooming slowly out to a medium long shot.
In this production photo we see the hiding Benedick overhearing Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato's revelation of Beatrice's love for him in what is usually referred to as the gulling (deceiving) scene. This scene is always played for laughs and Christopher Luscombe's 2014 production made effective use of special effects to create the small explosion and smoke that occurs when Don Pedro fixes the Christmas tree lights, thereby electrocuting the concealed Benedick.
In addition to operating all moving or 'intelligent' lights, RSC Lighting is responsible for all pyrotechnics, smoke, colour-changers, special effects, hand-held lanterns and electrical props. The book 'Stage Lighting – The Technician's Guide' is available from the RSC shop.
Nigel Hess composed both the scores for the 2014 productions of Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won. In this rehearsal image we see John Woolf playing the snare drum alongside Nigel Hess at the piano. John is an RSC Associate Artist and Music Director, having spent most of his career at the RSC. In the 2015 New Year's Honours, John was awarded a MBE for his services to music in the theatre. The CD John Woolf & Friends celebrates John's wonderful music for the RSC over more than 20 years and is available in the RSC Online Shop.