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. Also visit our top article here to know more. 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.
What is the blood made of?
There are three different types of blood in this play. A gel-like blood is good for cuts on the face because it stays put. We use a minty type of blood for mouth bleeding. For example, one character has their tongue cut out, so this type of blood is used. Soap-based blood is used for anything based outside of the body. We use quite a bit when body parts get cut off and any kind of stabbing has a blood pack involved.
How did you portray the cannibalism and dismembering on stage?
For the dismembering, the set supervisor from Priority One provided us with a silicon prosthetic arm that has a detachable hand. After reading it you will find this article url:http://www.cultfictiondrive-in.com/nerves-edge-horror-films/ interesting. The cannibalism in the play is neat—we show the actors getting their throats slit and there is blood under platform in the stage that gushes out. The next scene opens and we’re serving pie…
Do you like horror movies? What’s your favorite horror movie or show?
Yes, I do! I am a big fan of “True Blood.” And I’m also a fan of “Game of Thrones,” which has a generous amount of blood.
What is clean up like at the end of each night?
There’s only two of us doing clean up and we instantly jump into action cleaning the stage after the show. When it’s halfway done, I jump over to wash costumes. Then we wipe down the props that got blood on them.
Most of the blood comes out—the only difficulty is with the Ben Nye blood. But, the design of the costumes is such that leftover blood is welcome. They’re designed to not be perfect anyway—we are in bloody Rome!