Medieval & Early Modern History Research article

Bunting, Ruffs and Ping Pong Snow Balls

The making of Midsummer Mechanicals…

3 minute read

Costume and Set Designer Rose Revitt gives an insight into her inspiration behind the design for our production of Midsummer Mechanicals 

Full company of Midsummer Mechanicals. Photographer: Manuel Harlan.

How is the joy, music and playfulness of a family spin off of A Midsummer Night’s Dream translated onto the stage? Rose Revitt explains her creative process in transforming our Sam Wanamaker Playhouse into the colourful world of Midsummer Mechanicals, now playing until 26 August.  

One year ago, the Mechanicals (a band of craftspeople turned actors, led by Nick Bottom) put on their first ever play. Now, they’re hard at work getting everything in order before they perform their brand-new play to the Duke and Duchess. Taking inspiration from the mayhem of the play, Rose set out bringing the vibrant family show to life, and visually translating Shakespeare for a young audience. 

Sketch by Rose Revitt.

Staff creating bunting for Midsummer Mechanicals (2023).

The Mechanicals are a team of skilled craftspeople, including a weaver, carpenter and bellows maker. Rose used their trades and teamwork as inspiration for her design:   

Since Bottom is a weaver by trade, it seemed natural to incorporate fabric into the set. I wanted to represent the love of craft, making, creativity and storytelling that Bottom himself has, while also making it feel like a whole village has come together to put on a show, creating something that has character and soul woven into it.   

Delving into Elizabethan history, Rose discovered ways to incorporate folk traditions into a fun and colourful aesthetic:

In designing the costumes, I drew inspiration from folk traditions around Europe, looking at how these have changed over time, and the fun and quirky ways that outfits can be created that embrace those materials and techniques. I was also inspired by children’s drawings of creatures and imagined characters, particularly the ways that certain features can be exaggerated and enhanced to capture the essence of a character in surprising and playful ways.  

Full Company pictured in Midsummer Mechanicals. Photographer: Manuel Harlan.

Sketch by Rose Revitt of The Fairy Queen & The Fairy King.

Midsummer Mechanicals features plenty of song, dance and audience participation. Rose was keen to bring the interactive elements of the show to the fore: 

As a family show (and many children’s first time at the theatre), we wanted to make the space feel as warm and welcoming as possible. To bridge the divide between audiences and the stage, we hung the same bunting from the set around the auditorium and allowed families to be part of the bunting-making process when they first enter the space. The joy of this story is that the show is set in a playhouse – so we could embrace the theatre itself and then transform it into something fun and surprising. 

See Rose Revitt’s captivating and joyful world brought to life on stage in Midsummer Mechanicals, now playing in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until 26 August.

Full company pictured in Midsummer Mechanicals. Photographer: Manuel Harlan.

Jamal Franklin as Quince, Kerry Frampton as Bottom and Sam Glen as Flute in Midsummer Mechanicals. Photographer: Manuel Harlan.