Constructing the astonishing sets for the Stamford Shakespeare Company’s annual summer season of plays is no easy task, as Theatre Manager David Fensom reveals...
The set building team consists of only two people, Nick Carlton and Simon Godfrey. Nick has been with the Company since 1999 when he worked with his father, Dannie Carlton, on that year’s production of King John. From 2000 onwards the father/son partnership was responsible for constructing the sets for all three plays each year at the Rutland Open Air Theatre.
Over the years they have created countless amazing and diverse sets, including an elegant Art Deco hotel, a Victorian gypsy encampment, 40BC Rome, a 1950’s Italian cafe, a Venetian palace, the church hall from Dad’s Army, and dozens of castles, houses, ponds and gnarled trees.
Dannie’s favourite set was for the 2001 production of Romeo & Juliet. He is particularly proud that a picture of the set was published in the letters page of The Times, when a patron, watching the show, was so impressed he took a photo of the stage and sent it in to the newspaper.
Simon Godfrey joined the team in 2016, helping to build the sets for The Tempest and The Wind in the Willows, and in 2017 took over from Dannie, who decided the time had come to retire.
Each play director designs their own set and builds a model of it for Nick and Simon to work from. Building for the 2018 season of plays commenced in November last year. Sets are painted and dressed during April and May, ready for the season opening in June. It has been known for work on sets to continue after the opening night, such is the amount that needs to be done. The complexity of the sets has grown over the years and so too has the size. Around £16,000 worth of timber is bought in to construct the sets. Some are so large they have been built on steel girder frames and can weigh up to 3 tonnes.
This year the Company celebrates its astounding 50th anniversary and the sets promise to be the most incredible yet. Nick and Simon began work in November on recreating an 18th century indoor theatre for The School for Scandal. In January they will start to craft the Venetian canals, bridges, buildings and stairways of a 17th century version of The Merchant of Venice. Finally, in March, they will commence building 1940’s Windsor for a post-war production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Stamford Shakespeare Company 2018 Summer Season
The booking line is open for this summer’s season of plays, which are:
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
The School for Scandal
Box office: 01780 756133
For more information and to book online, visit: www.stamfordshakespeare.co.uk