BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts student Jerry Moore has just returned from a two week placement at the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.
One of the world's best-known theatre ensembles, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) performs throughout the year at its home in Stratford-upon-Avon. In the past 50 years, its stage has played host to the likes of Laurence Olivier, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes, to name a few.
Having previously worked on Poldark and Book of Mormon, as well as creating pieces for numerous productions like ‘Wicked’ and ‘Lend me a Tenor’, we sat down with Jerry to find out what it was like working for the iconic company.
Hi Jerry, how did you secure a placement at the Royal Shakespeare Company?
Well I applied online and they invited me to an interview day last February, so 2015, and I travelled up to Stratford for it.
There were about 20 to 25 people who had been selected for the interview day, they gave us a tour of the wardrobe and in each department they had tests set up for us which we had to complete.
The day went really quickly and afterwards we had to send a letter to them, to confirm if we still wanted to continue to the next phase as the interview day was quite challenging. So I sent my letter saying I wanted to do it and they got back to me offering the two week placement.
"I could have done with a few more weeks there; it was just so exciting!" — Jerry Moore
So you recently got back from your placement, how was it?
It was really good, I really enjoyed it, I wasn’t sure what I’d make of it because it’s such a prestigious place but they were really inspiring people to be around and they taught me an awful lot – I got to work on some really exciting productions when I was there.
I worked on Dr Faustus and Don Quixote, and I was integrated into the team as soon as I got there; they had me making shirts and lots of other things, I wasn’t just there making tea or anything! Each person took me on, showing me how they worked and new ways of doing things that I hadn’t even thought about – it was really good.
That sounds amazing. Were there any skills you picked up there?
Yes, one in particular was ruff making. They asked me if there was anything I wanted to focus on for the two weeks and as I was at the Royal Shakespeare Company, I just had to say ruffs!
I’ve dabbled in ruffs before but they showed me a new way of doing them, which was to sort the exterior out first and pleat the middle – it was incredible and the garment just came to life instantly.
"It’s been brilliant studying here, the last three years have gone so quickly and we’ve had incredible people in for visiting lectures." — Jerry Moore
Did you get to see any of your costumes on stage or in action?
Unfortunately the costumes I was making were for Don Quixote and that was on the programme after I left, but they did get me a ticket to see Dr Faustus. I had worked on some of the alterations for the show as it was the tech week for Dr Faustus whilst I was there.
It was an incredible performance as they’ve got such a unique theatre plan, it’s in the round so the audience sits all around the stage. The whole performance was atmospheric and captivating, so I loved that.
When you finish here at the college is that what you would like to be doing, working backstage on those types of productions?
Yes definitely, I am a maker, a cutter, and they took me on with that in mind. I actually showed them a picture of my costume design for my final major project and they took me through how they would do it, which gave me a lot of really good ideas. I could have done with a few more weeks there; it was just so exciting!
“It’s amazing that Jerry was able to experience what it’s like working at such a prestigious organisation for theatre.” — Marie Dunaway
Did you get any feedback from RSC about your placement?
Yes, they gave me a feedback form and said my sewing skills were well above average and they were really happy with me and my work. I was a bit quiet but I think I’m like that generally!
What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any live briefs?
No, not at the moment, I just finished working on the Book of Mormon production and I did Poldark last year. Really I’m just dedicating myself to my own work right now, this is my moment to start looking for work and to get my website up and running.
So you’re going to be exhibiting at our Summer Show this year, what’s your vision for your final piece?
Well the Queen Elizabeth costume is from a painting that celebrates her reign called the Rainbow Portrait. I am translating that into a physical costume, it has a drape on the outside with eyes and ears embroidered on and it has quite dark undertones to it, so I’m hoping people will look at it and wonder what the meaning is behind it.
For Sir Francis Drake I’m making him look like the statue on the Hoe in Plymouth, so it’s going to be a living statue kind of piece. I’m hoping there will be a nice contrast between the two, it’s still the same setting so hopefully they will work together but show different skills.
“The feedback I received was very positive, they loved Jerry’s enthusiasm and interest in the subject and how well he did with sewing." — Marie Dunaway
They sound challenging and exciting! Are you going to miss the college when you finish this year?
Yes, it’s been brilliant studying here, the last three years have gone so quickly and we’ve had incredible people in for visiting lectures. We’ve had a lot of notable people from the industry come in and talk to us, go through things with us and hold workshops, which is invaluable.
The skills we’ve all learnt here started from our first project in the first year, they had us making costumes straight away which meant it was really exciting from the start and meant that we’ve picked up so much to take out into the industry. It’s such a nice group of people to work with as well which always helps.
Marie Dunaway, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts said, "It’s amazing that Jerry was able to experience what it’s like working at such a prestigious organisation for theatre."
"The feedback I received was very positive, they loved Jerry’s enthusiasm and interest in the subject and how well he did with sewing. They were also really impressed with our programme and how we teach both costume making and associated crafts, which is the millinery and headwear side of things."
"Jerry has a great awareness of both sides and they thought that was a really positive thing to have and they’re happy to have students from Plymouth College of Art again, which is great to hear."
You'll be able to see Jerry's work at our college-wide Summer Show in June, in the meantime you can keep up to date with his work on Twitter.