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24 September 2014

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RSC photo exhibition reveals life behind the makeup

Rob Jones, a designer
Rob Jones, a designer for the RSC
RSC's Swan Theatre is holding an unusual photographic exhibition based on their highly successful production of Eastward Ho!

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The free exhibition In Order of Appearance shows photographs from the current production at the Swan.

In an unusual move, the photographic collection has been created as a result of a partnership between the RSC and the photography department of Central St Martins School of Art and Design.

 Amanda Drew as Gertrude
Amanda Drew as Gertrude
The photographers involved in the project are Christian Doyle, an ex-student of St Martins and professional photographer, and Ellie Kurtz, a student of St Martins.

The exhibition consists of individual black and white portraits of Eastward Ho! actors as they undergo their transformation into stage characters, as well as portraits of the 'characters' who are largely unseen by the general public.

These include technicians, caterers, cleaners and costume and wig makers.

 Rob Jones, a designer
Rob Jones, a designer usually behind the scenes
"We have taken 70 shots of people and it is quite hard to tell the performers from those who are not," said Christian Doyle. "Everyone has played a part in the project, illustrating the famous line that all the world is a stage - totally appropriate in this case. The portraits have been transferred onto long sheets of canvas then stretched onto frames, re-enforcing the theme of the stage, the set, the painted canvas, and creating an illusion."

 Claire Benedict as Mistress Touchstone
Claire Benedict as Mistress Touchstone
The exhibition also includes photographs that conjure the not-so-glamorous backstage atmosphere before a production opening. Ellie and Christian have captured the colour, the movement and the long hours in some candid shots.

The third strand of this unique project are photographs that reflect the modern equivalents of the characters and locations of the play. Ellie Kurtz visited some of the London locations sited in Eastward Ho!, including Cheapside and The Isle of Dogs.

The exhibition runs in The Swan Theatre until 14 September and is open from 1.30pm - 6.30pm on weekdays, 10am - 6.30pm on Saturdays and 10am - 4pm on Sundays. It is free.

Tickets for RSC productions can be bought from the box office on 0870 609 1110.

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