SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Design And Locations
Elizabethan England was a bustling, newly urban age of sumptuous excesses and crowd-ed city streets, of both lavish design and ram-shackle neighborhoods
Elizabethan England was a bustling, newly urban age of sumptuous
excesses and crowded city streets, of both lavish design and ramshackle
neighborhoods. To capture the vibrancy and visual excitement of
the day, John Madden brought in a team of highly skilled and creative
Production designer Martin Childs was given the task of recreating
Elizabethan London, an incredible opportunity to work with his
imagination in full flight. "Not only did this film give
us the opportunity to build the Rose Theater, but also all the
buildings in London that surrounded it," Childs explains.
"There is so little left of this period and the only Elizabethan
architecture that remains is the odd building surrounded by ones
from the Georgian and Victorian period. I knew we would have to build most
of Elizabethan London from scratch, so from a design point of
view it offered great scope.
He set to work on creating a naturalistic world that could contain
the incredible tale of romance at hand - not a painstakingly accurate
recreation of 16th century London, but an imaginative
capturing of its essence. He comments" I had this mantra
going in my head all the time that this is not a documentary,
we are allowed to use our imaginations fully. The look we aimed
for is somewhere that you believe people actually lived and worked.
We wanted to show things almost incidentally, so there are other
trades, other interests going on outside the specific world of
the theater and our storyline." Childs and Madden spent weeks
and weeks playing around with models built perfectly to scale
before they came up with a picture of London that seemed worthy
of setting in stone.
The filmmakers' vision of London in 1593 came to life on a plot
of land of behind Shepperton studios, which had until recently
been a garden nursery. A construction crew of 115 men in only
8 weeks constructed 17 buildings including 2 theaters, a series
of meandering alley ways, a brothel, a tavern, a whole market
place and, of course, the young William Shakespeare's London pad.
The backlot became an alternate world of meandering streets, hidden
alleyways, nooks and crannies.
Equally central to the story was the erecting of the two theaters
vying for Shakespeare's new - but as yet unwritten - play. First
there is the Rose Theater, owned by Philip Henslowe, a once robust
place now foundering due to closures forced by the plague. Elsewhere
in London is the Curtain Theater where the Chamberlain's Men perform.
Most important to Martin Childs was creating a definite contrast
between the two. Theater design was an important element of Elizabethan
drama, although no two theaters followed exactly the same design.
Research on what the original Rose Theater looked like was scant,
so Childs once again delved into his imagination. "I'd do
as much research as I could then throw that to the side and go
with my imagination, following my instincts about what looked
right and believable for the film. Retrospectively, I've discovered
that a lot of the places where I was playing fast and loose were
actually fairly historically accurate!"
Childs explains the look he chose for the Rose: "A lot of
the feel comes from the fact that there is no roof and that links
it with the earth and sky. I was very keen to make it look as
though the weather had got to it as they would not have been constantly
repainting it. We also kept the Rose Theater quite undecorated,
but with a little bit of grandeur on the stage." Co
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