Creating The Winter's Tale statues

During Act 1 of our new production of The Winter’s Tale, there are several statues of leaders of Sicilia, past and present, positioned around the grand set; one, in particular, looks remarkably familiar. It is a statue of Leontes, who, in our production, is performed by Iain Paterson.

To represent the controlled urban world of Sicilia, Vicki Mortimer, who designed the production, chose a smooth, neutral white and marble colour scheme. In the final set design, the palace rooms are filled with statues, and busts of previous male leaders adorn the walls. This evokes Leontes’ place in a legacy of male dictatorship, while drawing attention to the vulnerability of Hermione’s role within this power setting.

Here’s how the ENO Props department created the statue of Leontes.

The steps of creating the statues in The Winter’s Tale.

  1. The finished statue on stage at the beginning of Act 1
  2. At the beginning of the process, Iain Paterson, who plays Leontes, strikes a pose
  3. A bald cap is fitted to Iain Paterson’s head
  4. All of Iain’s hair is lubricated to prevent sticking (the next 5 steps are shown in the timelapse below)
  5. A plaster bandage support is applied to the back of Iain’s head to help with the moulding process
  6. A material called Alginate is applied all over Iain’s head to take a cast of his features
  7. The Alginate is worked in to Iain’s features to catch all the details
  8. A plaster support is added to the front of the mould
  9. The moulding process is finished (with airways kept clear at all times!)
  10. Iain is then taken out of the cast
  11. Casting plaster is then poured into the head cast to capture all the details that were moulded in
  12. Once the plaster is hard, the plaster supports and the Alginate is removed
  13. The cast is then cleaned up
  14. The closed eyes and the beard are removed from the cast
  15. Open eyes are then sculpted on
  16. Hair is also sculpted on in the style of Leontes in the production
  17. An exact copy of Iain’s costume is fitted to a mannequin before being padded and changed into the desired pose
  18. The head and hands are fitted and the fabric is then hardened with resin
  19. After the resin has hardened, it is undercoated with paint
  20. A marble paint effect is then added
  21. And finally the finished result on stage!

Timelapse of steps 4 – 9 of the statue making process

There are 500 tickets for £20 or less at every ENO performance. Tickets start from £12, plus booking fees of £1.50 per ticket up to a maximum of £6 per transaction. The final performance is Tuesday, 14 March 2017.

Explore more about each part of the creative process for The Winter’s Tale.

Want to see what else the Props team gets up to? Watch this short video with ENO Props Workshop Manager Paul Jones.