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Pericles

  • Object:

    Set model

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    2003 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Meller, Fred (designers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Art board, cardboard, plastic, paper, photographic paper and metal

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the designer

  • Museum number:

    S.1298-2010

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This model shows the settings for a promenade production of Pericles, staged in 2003 by the Royal Shakespeare Company and Cardboard Citizens. This was the first collaboration between the RSC and Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company in which the majority of the performers have experience of homelessness.

Pericles was presented in a disused distribution warehouse near the Old Kent Road in South London. The production adapted the text to incorporate contemporary stories of the dispossessed and linked them to Shakespeare's tale of the fugitive Pericles. Designer Fred Meller's model shows the location and the series of installations which turned the warehouse into a transit centre for asylum seekers. Audiences were treated as refugees: they had to queue behind chain link barriers in the entrance hall to be checked into the building and were shepherded into a room filled with desks and presented with immigration forms. People immerged from the crowd to tell stories of political persecution and personal tragedy and gradually became characters in the play. The audience then moved through a series of rooms which represented the stages in Pericles's journey. His shipwreck on the coast of Pentapolis took place in a laundry room filled with washing machines that spilled water onto the floor. A shipping container held the body of his lost wife Thaisa, and the Temple of Diana at Ephesus was re-imagined as a shrine to Diana, Princess of Wales, filled with floral tributes.

Physical description

Set model for William Shakespeare's play, Pericles, designed by Fred Meller. The model represents the interior of the warehouse in south east London where the production was staged. It is divided up into seven sections representing the rooms through which the audience moves as the play progresses, with a central section on which is a plan of the route. Clockwise, from bottom right, the rooms are described as the 'entrance', 'application', 'storm,' 'rescue', 'storm', 'the brothel'. and 'reunited'. With the exception of the second 'storm' section, the scale is 1:100. The audience and the actors are represented by plastic figures, black plastic in 'the brothel' and 'reunited', black with one white figure in the second storm section and white in the remainder. The 'entrance' has doors to left and right, and is divided by metal chain link barriers which force the audience to follow a path to a line of four white tables. To the rear a wall covered in blue card with a line of four blue booths. The 'application' room contains, to left, a group of figures seated at white plastic desks. The remainder of the room has rows of plastic chairs,with the positions of other desks and chairs marked out on the floor. To rear, at left, a red metal flat bed lorry with a table and chair on the back. The 'storm' room, bottom left, has photographs of washing machines and laundry on the walls and on free standing barriers to the left and right of the room. Photographs of clothes on washing lines hang from two beams running across the room. On lines of pallets towards the rear and to each side are washing machines. On the floor area between the machines a layer of clear plastic simulates water. 'Rescue' is filled by rows of small blue card rectangles representing beds. The 'storm' section, top left, is positioned at a higher level and is made to a scale of 1:50. Black figures stand in front of an open blue shipping container in which is a photograph of a prone figure. A white figure stands to the side of the open doors. The 'brothel' has red walls to front, rear and left and a black wall to right, with two large photographs on the rear wall showing a standing girl facing a seated man. In the top left hand corner is a two-level structure representing a building with windows and doors on two levels. A ladder leads from the ground to a walkway at the second level. Towards the centre of the room a figure stands on a small platform at the top of a 'column', the platform reached by a long ladder. 'Reunited' represents the Temple of Diana with, on the rear wall, a large photograph of Diana, Princess of Wales, and photographs of floral tributes cut into freestanding rows. The room is divided by a black floor-to-ceiling gauze. At the near wall tiers of steps run across the width of the room. Figures sit on the tiers and a figure sits on a box in front of the gauze.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

2003 (made)

Artist/maker

Meller, Fred (designers)

Materials and Techniques

Art board, cardboard, plastic, paper, photographic paper and metal

Dimensions

Height: 11.5 cm measured to highest point, Height: 8.3 cm measured to top of walls, Width: 94 cm, Depth: 63 cm

Descriptive line

Set model designed by Fred Meller for William Shakespeare's play, Pericles, Royal Shakespeare Company and Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company at the Distribution Warehouse, London, July 2003.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Collaborators: UK design for performance, 2003-2007, compiled by Kate Burnett (London: Society of British Theatre Designers, 2007). pp.186-187.

Labels and date

Pericles

Author: William Shakespeare
Venue: Distribution Warehouse, Old Kent Road, London

Set and Costume Designer
Fred Meller

'Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company began as a vehicle for helping homeless people, through its connection to Augusto Boal's Forum Theatre in Brazil. It is now a professional company taking the experiences of all actors from all over the world who take refuge in the UK. The designer-director relationship has been established over ten years.

The Royal Shakespeare Company actors share their experience of performing Shakespeare's text and Cardboard Citizens shared their first-hand experiences of the kind of life-changing events that Shakespeare writes about: vivid, immediate and relevant. Pericles' journey as a refugee is interspersed with real life stories. The audience initially cast as asylum seekers experience each of the different storms in a washing area, a sea of beds and a shipping container.'

Companies: Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company and
The Royal Shakespeare Company - July 2003

Director: Adrian Jackson
Set and Costume Designer: Fred Meller
Lighting Designer: Peter Higton
Sound Designer: David Baird [2007]
Pericles

Author: William Shakespeare
Venue: Distribution Warehouse, Old Kent Road, London

Lighting Designer
Peter Higton

'The production of Pericles took place in a complex of disused supermarket distribution warehouses. The audience undertook a journey through the spaces entering as asylum seekers to be "processed" under harsh fluorescent lighting, becoming shipwrecked alongside Pericles, and ending in a state of greater well-being as he is reunited with his family.

The lighting journey reflected that of the audience: the pitiless, utilitarian nature of the spaces became less austere as mercury lamps gave way to sodium, daylight gave way to darkness, and to the discovery of largely static, emotive compositions, which reflected the nature of event, location and tone.'

Companies: Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company and
The Royal Shakespeare Company - July 2003

Director: Adrian Jackson
Set and Costume Designer: Fred Meller
Lighting Designer: Peter Higton
Sound Designer: David Baird [2007]

Materials

Art board; Cardboard; Plastic; Paper; Photographic paper; Metal

Techniques

Model-making

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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