Shakespeare, Staging the World at British Museum last weeks closes 24th Nov

This major exhibition in the round reading room is the result of a close collaboration between the  RSC and the BM and opened on 19th July and closes on 24th Nov.

I have been working very closely with Alan Farlie of  RFK Architects since last october and am very proud of the process and its results.

The process of designing an exhibition is very different from my normal discipline. My audience is normally fixed and seated and I can control the images that flow past them in the’ two hours traffic’ of a play, the world of the play can develop and transform over time.  This exhibition was going to be more like a piece of theatre installation in which we have to lure the visitor from space to space and support the story of the objects. Jonathan Bate had already come up with the concept of structuring the narrative around Shakespeare’s imagined places. Dora Thornton selected the objects and initial quotes, while Greg Doran and Geraldine Collinge at the RSC advised on all the audio and video excerpts. The designers’ role was to enhance those stories, create dialogues and tensions between them and with Shakespeare’s words, which are as much objects in their own right within the show, and incorporate the element of performance. I worked very closely with the British Museum  team and the architect/designer Alan Farlie, who has in truth put in all the really hard work of the detailed design and brought his expertise of past exhibition design (Treasures of Heaven ) to bear. We sat in a room with images of all the objects grouped on boards. I was struck by how many circular or spherical objects we had. Drake’s circumnavigation medal especially impressed me with its almost Indiana Jones quality of a map complete with dotted journey line and the fascinating history of it coming from silver plundered from the Spanish off the coast of California on one side, and seemingly missing out the Catholic heart of Rome from the depiction of the  Mediterranean on its reverse. To the Londoner of the time the city was the centre of the world and radiating from it explorers and merchants brought back the wealth of objects, foreigners and stories. The web of meridian lines on maps and medals seemed to echo this pattern of circles and radiating lines tracing the Elizabethans’ early forays into the wider world, and the wonders they brought back. The BM Reading Room also functions as a wonderful metaphor of the world, circular with its beautiful doomed ceiling, it is impossible to design without responding to this magnificent space.

see these

review in the Telegraph

review in the New Statesman


development model Shakespeare staging the world.RSC/BM

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