Actors and Artifice: work from the University of Bristol Theatre Collection

5 February 2015, 10.00 AM - 23 March 2014, 4.00 PM

‌‌Actors and Artifice delves into the internationally renowned holdings of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection to present an intimate exhibition of theatrical portraits in partnership with the RWA. It examines the changing depictions of actors onstage and off, including performers dressed for the stage together with portrayals of the ‘real’ personalities behind the dramatic artifice, exploring the power of costume to create the illusion of an alternative identity. It also highlights the crucial role of the costume designer, presenting sketches and costume designs to illustrate the multitude of techniques employed to evoke a particular time, place, and most importantly character.

Selected from over one hundred paintings depicting actors, directors and theatre professionals, the exhibition explores the theatre’s fascinating relationship with artifice in art, including artworks commissioned by actors keen to document themselves in character. The Theatre Collection holds an outstanding array of examples of this from the eighteenth through to the twentieth century, such as Sarah Siddons as Isabella in ‘The Tragedy of Isabella’ or John Philip Kemble in the title role of ‘Richard III’.

5th February-23rd March 2014

Royal West of England Academy,Queen's Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1PX.

Actors and Artifice Exhibition picture

John Philip Kemble as Richard III in 'Richard III', William Hamilton, oil on canvas, c. 1783. UoB Theatre Collection

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