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Behind the Scenes: Blood, Guts and Gore in Titus Andronicus

Kelsey Ledbury, the stage manager for this production co-produced by The Shakespeare Company and Ground Zero Theatre and Hit & Myth, shares secrets on bringing the violence to life, how the gore was made realistic, and what clean-up is like each night.

“Titus Andronicus” is Shakespeare’s bloodiest play. But that’s what makes it so intriguing.


How did you feel coming into the production knowing it’s Shakespeare’s bloodiest play? 

After we did William Shakespeare’s “Land of the Dead” with the same trisect of companies, we had some foreknowledge of what clean up would be like: we knew it would be bloody and we knew there would be pie.

What do you do to make sure it’s realistic? 

The goal is to make it look realistic; we’re trying to do justice to Shakespeare’s bloodiest play so we added blood to as much of the action as we could. To make it look realistic we use blood packs, which are sealed plastic pouches that can fit in one’s palm. When someone gets stabbed, they will squeeze the pouch and blood shoots out.

For each production we run about 10 blood packs, several mouth capsules, some of the jam and quite a few liters of spilled blood.