Tabard made for Richard II

Tabard made for Richard II

This costume was made for Prospect Theatre Company's 1968 production of Richard II starring 29 year-old Ian McKellen as the King. Its five week tour was such a success that a second tour starting at the Edinburgh Festival was followed by a sell-out London run. It established McKellen as a leading actor.

Prospect was a small company with a limited funds. The set for Richard II was basic, so designer Tim Goodchild spent most of his minuscule budget on costume. This golden tabard of King Richard's is typically late 1960s in design and making. Based on medieval heraldry, it looks suitably historical but is actually made up of a collage of modern materials and a lot of gold paint! The basic fabric is furnishing brocade highlighted with gold paint. The heraldic lions sit amid a riot of gold mesh, glass 'jewels', gold raffia, felt and fake leather. Coins and even metal beer-bottle tops enhance the richness. The gold lamé lining had to be partially covered with clear polythene to protect it as it dragged across the stage. Reviews pronounced it an 'uncontested triumph'.