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Naturally, we’re extremely proud of the work we produce, from the smallest project to the largest, each deserves the same attention to detail.

Love's Labour's Lost & Much Ado About Nothing

Love's Labour's Lost & Much Ado About Nothing

It’s not often that we get the opportunity to build a stately home in our workshops

Managed by the National Trust, The real Charlecote House is  a Grade I listed building, a grand 16th-century country house, surrounded by its own deer park, on the banks of the River Avon near Stratford Upon Avon by the National Trust since 1946 and is open to the public.

The set design featured many real locations from the Charlecote Estate and surrounding village including the towers, roof top, entrance, library and the local church.

If you take a look at the following link you’ll be able to see the Cast visiting the real site so you can compare ours to the real buildings!

https://www.cft.org.uk/news/loves-labours-lost-much-ado-about-nothing-company-visit-to-charlecote-park

The set was constructed primarily from steel frames clad in ply, CNC’d build up sections and timber mouldings before being aged and textured by the scenic art team. Probably one of the more challenging, albeit smaller pieces, was the roof truck which was fitted with air puck swivel castors and was designed to be highly durable as the direction required the actors to be climbing all over it and even hanging off the chimneys! Scenic components like this are always interesting to build as they need to be both practical and highly decorative so a lot of time and effort from all three departments went into this relatively small set piece.

Another challenging piece for our engineers (and draughtsmen!) was the main library truck unit which needed to glide effortlessly throughout the show revealing a new set element and braking into three sections that could be used as smaller trucks or one large ‘slab’. Of course we make trucks like this all the time (remember the house for Magic Flute?) but this truck was different...because of the designer didn’t want to disturb the beautiful grass section in the centre of the stage floor the truck is entirely supported on two offstage tracks that run up and down stage. All of the steel members running across stage had to be strong enough to take the weight of the floor, the set, all of the actors and all of the furniture and props! Needless to say, quite a lot of thought and work went it to making the truck a success and it looked beautiful fully dressed on the Chichester Festival stage.

 

Recreating the world of Charlecote was an interesting challenge for the Scenic Art team. The key elements of the design were the turrets and stone balcony. Everything else emerged from this structure. It was really important to create as realistic brick and stone texture as possible and for this we used lots of references supplied by designer Simon Higlett. We applied the brick texture through specially made stencils which were cut out to look naturalistically uneven and organic like real handmade bricks.

We worked closely with Simon to establish the right amount of ageing and this involved mixing and applying all the typical green mould and earthy tones that you see on old country mansions. We also crumbled the edges of the stonework softening the hard edges to make them look like the well-worn exteriors.

Simon’s set design was incredibly detailed including copies of the Charlecote stained glass windows wooden fencing, and coats of arms, all of which had to be recreated by the scenic team at CTS

The team had to cut out 400 roof tiles from 6mm ply, shape the edges to look natural, and then texture them to look like handmade clay tiles. They were painted in groups of different terracotta colours so that they looked different when they were applied to the scenery in the rooftop scene.

The main show floor was a textured and painted replica of exterior stone slabs, edged in brick, surrounding a planked wooden parquet effect central floor, which was covered in the exterior scenes with rolls of artificial grass.

The planked floor was plywood cut into plank sized widths which were then each given a diagonal painted wood grain. They were then applied to the show floor so that the grain made a zig zag pattern making them look like a beautiful parquet floor. Simon had explained the technique to us prior to starting as he had used it before and we were all amazed by how convincing it was once it was all assembled. Even the artificial grass was painted to look like a striped mowed lawn and one of the two grass floor cloths even had a layer of painted frost effect.

Add to this the painted wood grain we created for the library scene and the hundreds of book spines  lovingly applied to the shelves and you begin to get a feel for just how detailed Simon’s vision was for this project, and how much the team here contributed to making that vision a convincing reality on stage

 

We work collaboratively at CTS and are fortunate to have other creative experts nearby The balcony stone mouldings were made by Matt Wild and his team using their  3D ‘robot  arm’.

 

William Shakespeare's great romantic comedies, Love's Labour's Lost and Much Ado About Nothing were first paired to great acclaim in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2014. This innovative doubling is currently running at Chichester Festival Theatre in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Following their run in Chichester will transfer to the West End, at Theatre Royal Haymarket from 9 December 2016 – 18 March 2017.

 

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