So a lovely lady came into the shop a few weeks ago, looking for unusual teenagers for #Will, a new version of the early life of Shakespeare, filming in nearby Lacock in mid March. We got talking and before I knew it, my son and I were at a casting and he wasn’t the only one having his measurements taken. Fast forward to this week and yours truly (and son) were up before the crack of dawn in doublet and hose, or in my case many skirts and some tight lacing. Visiting the lav was a bit more complicated than usual. Add some very dirty make-up, rouged cheeks and greasy hair and you’ve probably got the picture.
Fascinated, we watched as scores of gay Elizabethans queued for props, breakfast and ‘the line-up’. The scale of operations was jaw-dropping, vast marquees, row after row of white lorries and lots of walkie-talkies. The costumes were astounding; not what you’d call authentic, but that’s exactly the point. The shapes were right and the style of decoration too, for the most part, but the colours, tattoos, piercings, cowboy boots and the exaggerated theatrical make-up brought a powerful contemporary edginess – Shakespeare meets cyber-punk, in deepest Wiltshire. Not something you see everyday.
The sets were pretty amazing too. Church Street was transformed into a Tudor market-place, draped with wonderful fabrics and animal skins, selling roasted meat, dead rabbits, heritage carrots and a lot of apples. High rope-walkers and acrobats performed for grubby kids, camels and a monkey. The tithe barn was an extraordinary tavern with an open fire in the middle of the floor and as for the execution at the Abbey…let’s just say there was smoke, fire and a lot of hot fake blood in thermos flasks. Oh and a few ‘Catholic traitors’.
All in all, a fascinating experience from start to finish, I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to witness it all; thank you to all the lovely people who looked after us and the great actors we met. I can confirm that the young man playing Will is extremely handsome close-up!
And now, back to the day-job.