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30th Jun, 2022

RSC costume department prepares for stylish future after hitting £3million fund-raising target

THE SHOW will go on in style for The Royal Shakespeare Company’s costume-making department in Stratford.

The world-famous theatre company this week hit its ‘Stitch In Time’ fund-raising target of £3million to help redevelop its cramped and ageing two-storey workshop on Waterside – some 70 years after it first opened.

Building work is set to start in the coming weeks following months of site preparation and demolition of some buildings on the site, which stands opposite the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres.

The £9million project will see the historic grade II listed buildings conserved and extended. A new entrance will also be created using the former doors built for the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1887.

The RSC has the largest in-house costume-making department of any British theatre, and its workshop – which also has its own armoury – will see many improvements.

These will include a larger millinery, jewellery, dyeing and print workshops along with a larger fitting room.

The changes will allow the department to take on apprentices and also welcome visitors for tours.

More than 30,000 people donated to the Stitch in Time campaign launched nearly two years ago. The project also received funding from Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The site is scheduled to re-open next summer.

RSC executive director Catherine Mallyon said: “We are delighted to have achieved our campaign fund-raising target – it has been truly amazing to see thousands of people from all around the world support our campaign.

“Once completed our costume workshop will allow visitors to experience the heritage of the world-class costume workshop for themselves through tours, interactive experiences, education, participation and outreach opportunities.

“There will also be new training and apprenticeship opportunities to enable costume-making skills to be passed on to future generations and to secure the future of costume-making in the town. I also thank all our generous supporters for their commitment and look forward to sharing the completed project with them.”

The multi-million pound makeover also earned the support of veteran star of stage and screen Ian McKellen whose one-man show, Ian McKellen on Stage with Tolkien, Shakespeare, Others and You, raised further donations when he performed at the theatre last weekend.

Sir Ian, a regular on the RSC stage over the past 40 years, said: “Touring the country with my solo show has been invigorating but sometimes a little depressing, as I see that fewer and fewer regional theatres mount their own productions and make their own scenery and costumes. The RSC is a shining exception: and always has been.”

 

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