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2nd Jul, 2022

Campaign launched to gather funds for RSC costume department makeover

A CAMPAIGN has been officially launched to re-develop the RSC’s costume workshop which is ‘bursting at the seams’.

Stitch In Time – organised by the RSC Costume Workshop Council – aims to raise £3million towards the cost of revamping the in-house department located opposite the theatre on Stratford’s waterside.

The project has already secured £2.1 million of funding from Arts Council England, and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) recently announced a generous pledge of £950,000 towards the revamp of the in-house department – the largest of any British theatre.

A campaign page has been set up to allow people to donate to the project set to cost around £8.7million and a massive costume jumble sale is set to boost funds on September 23.

The plans involve connecting the current workshops with the RSC offices behind on Chapel Street, to allow the team more space to create the costumes, and provide more training opportunities for students.

A lift will also allow the easier transfer of heavy costumes to different rooms, and outside areas to provide actors and staff much needed breathing space.

And a new main entrance on Waterside – originally leading to an 1887 scenery store for the former Shakespeare Memorial Theatre – will welcome both staff and visitors who will be treated to guided tours.

RSC artistic director Gregory Doran said: “We hope people will support this fantastic project, by contributing to all the different elements of our costume-making, from shoes and underwear to armour and jewellery. Costumes are essential for us to create the best theatre experience for our audiences. They are integral to an actor’s performance, and to them becoming the character they are to play.

“As Judi Dench said, ‘no matter how much rehearsal time you have, you cannot get fully into the part until you are in costume.

“We create, repair and recycle hundreds of costume pieces each year for our productions, all made in our Stratford workshop. The jumbled rabbit warren of rooms is filled with hidden treasures used every day by 30 talented craftspeople, who work with our designers and actors to create costumes from all periods of time, and which are seen by audiences all over the world.

“It’s special to think that costumes have been made on this site continuously, since at least the 1940s. However, the workshop is now bursting at the seams as our costume making requirements and skills have developed over the years. It’s in urgent need of attention, and our Stitch In Time campaign will help us to create modern-day costume-making facilities and secure the legacy of that craftsmanship and the heritage buildings that house it.”

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