Costume design

Troilus and Cressida

1960 (made)

Hurry, Leslie

Height: 39 cm, Width: 19.3 cm

S.1805-2014 T&P

Costume design by Leslie Hurry for Cassandra in William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, Royal Shakespeare Company 1960

Pen and watercolour costume design on paper with pencil inscription by Leslie Hurry for William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. The design shows a long purple hooded costume for Cassandra.

Costume design by Leslie Hurry for Cassandra in William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, Royal Shakespeare Company 1960. Cassandra was played at Stratford in 1960 by Frances Cuka and in Edinburgh and London in 1962 by Sonia Fraser. Leslie Hurry (1909-1978) trained at the Royal Academy and during the 1930s became known as a surrealist painter. A one-man show in London in 1942 was seen by the theatre director, Michael Benthall, who recommended Hurry to the dancer and choreographer, Robert Helpmann, then planning a ballet based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. The success of his designs set Hurry on a second career as one of the most distinguished theatre designers of his generation. He designed operas, ballets and plays, notably Swan Lake for the Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1943, a production which stayed in the repertoire for thirty years; Venice Preserv'd for Peter Brook (1953); the Ring Cycle at Covent Garden (1954), and Troilus and Cressida at Stratford for Peter Hall (1960), famous for being staged in a sand pit. Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare directed by Peter Hall and Jon Barton was presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon on 26 July 1970. It was revived for eight performances at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival where it opened on 20 August 1962 at the Lyceum Theatre and transferred to the Aldwych Theatre, London where it opened on 15 October 1962. The music was composed by Humphrey Searle and the production lit by John Wyckham. The production is remembered for the action being set by Leslie Hurry in a hexagonal sandpit with an abstract backcloth. Sir Peter Hall, paying tribute to Leslie Hurry after his death in 1978, claimed ‘One of the two most extraordinary things he did for me in the early years of the RSC was Troilus and Cressida. Leslie fell naturally into expressing Troy – wonderful purples and gold, and long, long cloaks, and he used his sense of the barbaric, which was very strong to express the Greeks. We had the sandpit from the word go. He was very wry about it; in a way, although he endorsed it completely, he felt it was almost passing up his responsibility as an artist, because an arena of sand didn’t need him. But he loved it once it was there because it moved, it took different light, it was always different – and because he had a background for the most beautifully coloured costumes.’

Given by Caro Rathbone

Location: In Storage

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