Shakespeare at 400: WATCH incredible life-size paper tribute take shape

From King Richard III to King Lear and Caliban to Romeo – Shakespeare's most famous characters have been handcrafted from paper and cardboard for an exhibition.

A tormented Julius Caesar slumped over a desk with a dagger in his back
A tormented Julius Caesar slumped over a desk with a dagger in his back

The show displays scale models over 6ft tall, a 10ft high balcony and even a walk-in tavern.

It has been made as a tribute to mark 400 years since the Bard's death.

A tormented Julius Caesar slumped over a desk with a dagger in his back
A life-size paper Romeo and Juliet give each other the eye in this piece from the exhibition
Shakespeare pens a play at his desk

Each piece on display at Birmingham City University was individually crafted by 22 first year students from the design for theatre, performance and events degree course.

They used techniques learned on the course to sculpt 780 metres of corrugated cardboard and nearly 5,000 metres of brown paper into the entire setting and characters.

Among the figures on show are a likeness of William Shakespeare writing at his desk and full size replicas of some of theatre's most famous names – including King Lear, Caliban, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet.

The exhibition took nearly three weeks to create.

Students worked day and night to make each setting, character and item from scratch, as well as selecting music and lighting to complement each element.

Hollie Wright, module leader for the project, said: "The project is a simple yet extremely effective approach to experiential learning.

The Merchant of Venice's Antonio gambles in the tavern

"We want the first year students to engage with fundamental principles associated with performance design including scale, narrative, space, light, sound, audience and collaboration; as well as abilities that are difficult to teach like tenacity and determination.

Caliban brings the Tempest to life

"The project begins with students researching and responding individually to a given theme, which this year was Shakespeare, ideas are pitched and a final one is chosen to realise to full scale out of these basic materials.

"We have full confidence in the students' research, skills and abilities to reach this to the high level presented, so that the ownership of the project is entirely student-led."

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust helped students research the project.

Members visited the installation on Tuesday to select a number of characters and settings which will be taken away and displayed in Stratford-upon-Avon when the project ends.

The installation, housed in the Shell space at the university's Parkside building, is open to the general public until February 26.

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