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27th Jun, 2022

RSC unveil The Play's the Thing exhibition

Stratford Editorial 25th Oct, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

LEARNING the tricks of the theatre trade is something people of all ages can find out about at The Play’s the Thing.

The RSC have spent two years transforming part of the Swan Wing into an interactive, behind the scenes exhibition which features props and costumes from the company’s extensive collection as well as a chance to sit in the director’s chair.

People can rifle through drawers to find out stage secrets – including what hair is used to make wigs – as well as trying on some famous costumes on display with the aid of a magic mirror.

And for those who fancy themselves as the next star of the stage there are props and costume pieces to pose for selfies in.

The famous Chandos portrait, which is believed to be the only portrait of Shakespeare painted while he was alive, will watch over visitors until December next to the RSC’s rare first folio of his plays.

Director of events and exhibitions Geraldine Collinge has spent the last seven years planning and creating the permanent exhibition, and Robyn Greenwood joined the project two years ago as exhibitions officer.

Their favourite parts of the exhibition are the interactive stage, where people can act alongside Ewart James Walters in Hamlet, and Titania’s dress worn by Juliet Stevenson in the 1981 production of A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Costumes, including David Tenant’s Hamlet t-shirt from 2008, will only be on display for six months at a time to preserve them, but it means the RSC can show more of their extensive costume collection to visitors.

The oldest costume on display – the Benson Theatre company’s 1903 Lady Macbeth dress – was also one of the most difficult parts to incorporate into the exhibition because of its age.

In true theatrical style, people take a bow and leave the exhibit to a round of applause before walking along the Rialto Bridge above the Swan Theatre foyer.

A six-metre-long mural by artist Vic Lee is a timeline showing Shakespeare’s return to Stratford and the evolution of the RSC and the theatre in Stratford.

Visit www.rsc.org.uk/the-plays-the-thing for more information.

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