As the Rubbish Diet on recycling enters its final stages Lesley Anslow looks as some of the clever work going on behind the scenes at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds
Empty plastic milk bottles, decapitated dolls and bits of broken clocks are all vital componants to some backroom recycling which creates a world of fantasy and glamour.
The wardrobe department at the Theatre Royal is brimming with clothes of all descriptions and with ideas of how to make the most of every scrap that many of us would chuck away.
As the Rubbish Diet two month campaign comes to a close the theatre is also working to get more recycling facilities for its patrons and its back office staff have now adopted a think before you throw attitude.
Nicola Stacey and Heidi McEvoy-Swift run wardrobe and Heidi has a line up of empty milk bottles under the sewing machine awaiting use.
A vibrant creation in red is Mephistopholes’ cloak and headgear used in Stagefright. Inside the headpiece plastic from the milk bottles stiffens the cap while coat hangers are the base for the threatening horns he wears.
A window sash cord has become the rope belt worn by a priest while the internal workings of a clock became Prunesquallor’s eyepiece in Gormenghast performed by the Summer School,
The theatre had help from the Household Waste Recycling Centre in its search for unwanted dolls which had to be decapitated for scenes in Gormenghast. The laundery room went into overdrive washing the dolls before they got the chop.
Chicken bones were boiled up and used on the costume for the wild child in the production and three top hats were also decorated with recyclables for use on stage.
There are five rooms in wardrobe on the top floor of the box office and they they are full - each room performing a set fundtion.
The Panto room -is a cornucopia of magical outfits - a Chinese dragon, fairy wings clown costumes, rich colours and fabrics while another room contains fur coats, stoles and military costumes. Another is filled with shoes while another has neat rows of costumes ready to go.
Everwhere everything is used and use again.
Nicola says: “We know where everything is up here - you wouldn’t believe it. It’s quite hard to throw away fabrics
“We prefer to repair things rather than throw anything away. Sometimes clothes are donated and their fabric is so fragile they can’t be used. Instead we take the pattern and use it to create more robust costumes.”
Social media helps too as the theatre’s Twitter group put out a call for knitters who set to and created 400 roses which were used to identify people on the Ramble with the Romantics during the Bury Festival.
While the wardrobe in CS Lewis’ The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe had its own magical properties the same could indeed be said for Bury’s Theatre Royal wardrobe where everything has a renewable life.
As Nicola says: “We’ve usually got it here somewhere.”