Public to see redeveloped RSC costume workshop

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Public to see redeveloped RSC costume workshop
Head of theatrical millinery and jewellery Alexandra ThompsonPA Media
People will be able to see the skills of the team, which includes head of theatrical millinery and jewellery Alexandra Thompson

The redeveloped costume workshop of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is to open to the public for the first time.

Restored Grade II listed buildings in Stratford-upon-Avon now sit alongside new spaces, which can house the 30 workers, after £8.7m was raised.

The costume workshop team relocated for two years, which involved moving items including 3,500 pairs of shoes, 36 mannequins and 126 paintbrushes.

Guided tours are expected to start next year.

Members of the public will be able to see the team's specialist skills, including millinery, jewellery, dyeing, costume painting and costume props.

Stock-keeper and buyer Veronika WeidenhillerPA Media
Stock-keeper and buyer Veronika Weidenhiller is pictured in the workshop

The workshop, which is the largest in-house costume-making department of any British theatre, lies opposite the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres on the site of where scenery used to be made, the 1887 Memorial Theatre Scene Dock, which is now the new entrance to the building.

A total of £8.7m was raised through Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Stitch In Time campaign, which secured more than 30,000 donations.

The redeveloped costume workshopPA Media
The workshop has been redesigned to provide more space and daylight
The redeveloped costume workshopPA Media
The workshop will offer training and apprenticeships to the local community
Head of costume props, armoury and footwear Alan SmithPA Media
Head of costume props, armoury and footwear Alan Smith is among the team

RSC artistic director Gregory Doran said costumes had been made on the workshop site continuously since at least the 1940s and it makes, repairs and recycles hundreds of costume pieces every year.

He said: "As Judi Dench said 'No matter how much rehearsal time you have, you cannot get fully into the part until you are in costume.'"

Men's costumier Susie England (right)PA Media
Items including more than 1,710 reels of thread and 45 sewing machines had to be packed up and moved
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