Arming Titus Andronicus

Alan, who works in the armoury, working on a breast plate for Titus Andronicus.

Shakespeare's bloodiest play will deploy a range of armour and weapons, all made in our Armoury in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Led by Alan Smith, the Armoury is responsible for making all weapons and armour used on our stages and is currently equipping two armies for Titus Andronicus.

Alan said: 'This production is very visceral – don't eat a big dinner before you see it! For me, it has an almost post-apocalyptic feel about it which is refreshing – it won't look the same as previous productions.'

Equipping Titus Andronicus
For Titus Andronicus our Armoury is producing:

  • 10 truncheons
  • 11 breast plates
  • 11 helmets, each using 10 pieces of leather
  • A range of daggers, swords and shields
  • 4 leather harnesses, used to drag prisoners about

The New Roman Army
A modern outfit, based on the riot police, troops in the New Roman Army will be dressed all in black, with blacked-out visors, so they can see out, but their faces are hidden.

Alan and his team are making each soldier a breast plate, made from shaped plastic and covered in leather, each one worked by hand.

Eagle insigniaEach breast plate will bear an eagle insignia, cut out of aluminium, with the lines drawn out using a centre punch (usually used for marking holes before drilling). Then black paint is then rubbed on and then off the insignia, so the paint goes into the holes, making the detail of the insignia show up.

Titus's Army
Less modern-looking than the New Roman Army, Titus's army will wear all-leather breast plates dyed red and black, and worn over red tunics, with black masks.

Titus himself will wear a different breast plate, to distinguish him from the rest of his army, using sections of brass to pick out a rising sun design.

Like the new Roman Army, Titus's army will bear an insignia - a lion cut out from brass.

Alan and his team are making 11 helmets for the New Roman and Titus armies. They are using recycled fibreglass helmets (pictured, left), some of which are up to 35 years old, from previous productions.

Each helmet is covered in leather – six individual sections of leather are stitched together for the crown and two for the brim. A further two pieces are used across the top (pictured, right). Then cheek pieces and visors are added for the New Roman Army helmets.

Find out more about how our work is Made in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Titus Andronicus

by William Shakespeare

Swan Theatre
16 May - 26 October 2013

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