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.
Actors and Artifice 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, Actors and Artifice 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’.
The Theatre Collection is one of the world’s leading archives relating to the history of British professional theatre. To find out more please visit www.bris.ac.uk/theatrecollection