once upon a time: robin hood part one

In 1984 I wrote, directed, choreographed and designed a new stage production of Robin Hood for the Christmas season at the New Theatre in Cardiff. At the behest of those of you who’ve lobbied for more evidence of my previous life in the theatre, I’ve been excavating and digitising photographs from the dusty recesses of my stage portfolio. Here then, twenty-six years after the event, is what survives of Robin Hood.

Two costume designs for Gargoyles.

I have very few official production photographs. Those that exist were done hastily during a late-running dress rehearsal, and few were good enough for me to want to keep. I’ve cleaned up some of them digitally for posting here. What survives is largely down to a box of snapshots taken by me backstage and in dressing-rooms in order to record some of the beautiful work done by the costume, mask, wig and prop departments. There are also some photographs of the scale model I made of the set, and a few snapshots done in the production workshops of work in progress.

The Sheriff  of Nottingham and his Gargoyle hench-creatures cast spells to turn summer into winter.

Model for the Blue Boar Inn.

Production photograph. Inside the Blue Boar Inn.

Model for the Gate of Nottingham Castle.

Production photograph. Marian at the Gate of Nottingham Castle.

The following photographs show the costumes for The Winter Hunt. The costumiers, hatters, glovers, boot-makers and jewellery-makers did a fantastic job for this scene. On stage Marion carried an albino hunting hawk, an animatronic puppet operated by remote control from the wings. These photographs were taken back stage and at a ‘costumed’ press call.

Marian. The Winter Hunt.

The photograph below was taken from the wings during a rehearsal. You can just see Marian’s albino hunting hawk at the extreme right.


5 thoughts on “once upon a time: robin hood part one

  1. Pingback: sherwood: the one that got away | Clive Hicks-Jenkins' Artlog:

  2. Wow! What a spectacular production this looks to have been. There’s a delicious extravagance in the costumes and sets and props. How cool for you to have been involved.

    And thank you! For sharing this. I know you had reservations and I had no intention of twisting your arm, but I appreciate it very much. There’s a history that plays into your present, so it’s nice to see some of that.

    • Jason, I’m glad you enjoyed this little jaunt down Memory Lane. Yes, I had, and indeed still have reservations, though I can’t rationalise the unease beyond the fact that my relationship with the theatre could best be compared to a marriage that went horribly wrong but is now far behind me. I’m quite sure it was a good thing that you and Zoe and a few other Artlog visitors gently persuaded me to pull back the curtain on the past. I’m a great believer in openness, though of course it’s sometimes harder to practise than theorise about. I have some more posts on stage design up my sleeve, but they will be for another time. And just for the record, I didn’t feel there was any arm twisting, just a gentle encouragement.

    • I was a reasonable maker and everyone used to enjoy playing with my models in pre-production. But alas it’s the fate of these things to be pulled apart and measured and examined in the hurly burly of carpentry departments. Few return, though I hear my set model for Little Shop of Horrors survived intact and for many years sat on a shelf in the scenic workshop at Theatre Clwyd eliciting admiration. I wonder if it’s still there. It was very carefully made, with fire escapes, peeling brickwork and vintage cinema posters, vertiginous stair wells and a ludicrously steep raked stage. I shall post pictures of it at some point. I think it was probably my most accomplished stage set. Certainly I never designed another after it. I must have saved the best for last.

      I’m pretty sure the model for Robin Hood was destroyed, though somewhere I have the tiny model of the Sheriff’s throne as a memento!

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