Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Theatre costume
  • Theatre costume
    Annals, Michael, born 1938 - died 1990
  • Enlarge image

Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1964 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Annals, Michael, born 1938 - died 1990 (theatre designer)
    Gunter, John, born 1938 - died 2016 (costume maker (theatre))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fibreboard, painted leatherette, upholstery studs, copper foil, pheasant feathers and elastic

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dodger Stage Holding Theatricals Inc

  • Museum number:

    S.37-2003

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

An Inca mask, designed by Michael Annals for the premiere of Peter Shaffer's epic play, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, by National Theatre Company in 1964. The play tells the story of the Spanish conquest of Peru and the death of the god-king, Atahuallpa. Michael Annals devised a spectacular staging, based on the emblem of the sun, and dressed the Incas in dazzling masks and headdresses. 'We drowned the stage with gold and feathers', said Shaffer. It was a triumph of design which established the 26-year-old Annals as a major talent.
This mask is a good example of the ingenuity of the theatrical costume maker. From a distance it appears to be made of beaten copper, but it is, in fact, constructed from fibreboard covered in painted leatherette and is decorated with metal upholstery studs.

Physical description

High crested half mask with comb-like top, made from fibreboard covered in leatherette painted with gold, brown and black pigments to suggest beaten metal. The crest is decorated with two oval eye shapes in applied fibreboard covered in copper foil and with metal upholstery studs and pheasant feathers. A triangular decoration above the wearer's eyes has lost its leatherette covering. Eye piece missing. Attached to the reverse of the crest by metal clips are ten elastic strips to hold the feathers. Three pieces of black elastic, designed to fit over the wearer's head, are stapled to the reverse.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (possibly, made)

Date

1964 (made)

Artist/maker

Annals, Michael, born 1938 - died 1990 (theatre designer)
Gunter, John, born 1938 - died 2016 (costume maker (theatre))

Materials and Techniques

Fibreboard, painted leatherette, upholstery studs, copper foil, pheasant feathers and elastic

Dimensions

Height: 37 cm to widest points, Width: 65 cm to widest points, Weight: 4.5 kg Boxed with S.36-2003

Object history note

This mask was designed by Michael Annals for the premiere of The Royal Hunt of the Sun, which John Dexter directed for the National Theatre Company in 1964. The production opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre and then transferred to the Old Vic. Following its British success, Dexter re-staged the play for the ANTA Theatre, New York, using the same production team. The masks made for the National Theatre were re-used in the Broadway production.

Historical significance: A fortunate survival from a significant theatre production of the 1960s. Peter Shaffer's epic play was the newly established National Theatre Company's first premiere and a major triumph of direction and design. It established the career of Michael Annals, who went on to work extensively at the National Theatre and on Broadway.

Descriptive line

Inca mask, designed by Michael Annals for Peter Shaffer's play, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, National Theatre Company, Chichester Festival Theatre and Old Vic, 1964; ANTA Theatre, New York, 1965

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

Wengrow, Arnold. Observe and Show: the theatre art of Michael Annals. London: V&A Publications, 2003. 72p., ill. ISBN 1 85177 4505

Materials

Fibre-board; Leatherette; Metal; Gold paint; Paint; Foil; Feathers; Elastic

Techniques

Glueing; Painting; Stapling

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.