Costume Designer Melissa Simon-Hartman helped mark 50 years of the Notting Hill Carnival this week with her costumes from our production of Much Ado About Nothing.

This August, Notting Hill Carnival will be held for the first time since 2019. As part of the ongoing celebrations, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall took part in a special ‘mini carnival’ with music and costume, held at The Tabernacle in the heart of Notting Hill.

Much Ado About Nothing Costume Designer Melissa Simon-Hartman and actor Akiya Henry, who played Beatrice, showed Their Royal Highnesses three costumes from the production, and discussed Carnival’s influence on mainstream culture and theatre.  

three people look at drawings on a table
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Melissa Simon-Hartman began her costume career in the carnival arts, designing costumes for the Notting Hill Carnival from a young age. She has continued to use fashion as a visual tool to tell a story, and in January designed extraordinary costumes to reflect the Afrofuturistic world that director Roy Alexander Weise created for our production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Their Royal Highnesses viewed three costumes, which were worn by The Friar, a member of the Watch, and a costume worn at Hero’s ‘funeral’. Our Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon, was also in attendance to welcome the Royal household.

With over a million visitors expected over the August Bank Holiday, London’s vibrant Notting Hill Carnival is second only to Brazil's Rio Carnival in size and is now one of the globe's largest annual arts events.

Much Ado About Nothing played in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at the start of 2022. The production was filmed and you can now watch Much Ado About Nothing on BBC iPlayer.