A MULTI-MILLION pound revamp of the RSC’s costume department in Stratford has been given the green light.
The workshop on Waterside has outgrown its home opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where it has been located since the 1950s.
The plans, agreed by Stratford District Council planning committee, will allow the team more space to create the costumes, and provide more training opportunities for students.
They will also see the department connected to the RSC’s offices on Chapel Street.
And a new main entrance on Waterside – originally leading to an 1887 scenery store for the former Shakespeare Memorial Theatre – will welcome visitors who will be offered guided tours.
The department – the largest in-house workshop of any British theatre – is home to many specialist skills and crafts including millinery, dyeing, printing, and it even houses its own armoury.
The team will relocate to the company’s Arden Street rehearsal rooms for the duration of the works, due to be completed by spring 2020.
The project has already secured £2.1 million of funding from Arts Council England and hopes to bag a further £950,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
And the company recently launched its campaign ‘A Stitch in Time’ to help raise funds.
Executive director Catherine Mallyon said: “We are delighted the planning authority has recognised the importance of and need for the redevelopment and restoration of our costume workshop. We would like to thank them for their support, and we are looking forward to progressing our project.
“We are now at a point where the cluster of buildings is not fit for purpose, and in need of urgent attention.
“Every year, millions of people enjoy our costumes and we know that they are fascinated by the processes that go into making them. For the first time, we want to open our costume workshop to the public, so that people can experience the skill and craftsmanship that goes into making our beautiful costumes.
“Our Stitch In Time campaign has captured people’s imagination, but there is still a long way to go. We hope that people will support the project to make sure that we can continue making stunning costumes in our Stratford workshops, and pass on those skills to the next generation of costume makers.”
Visit www.rsc.org.uk/stitchintime to find out more.