A New Stage: Using Creative Cloud to Give Shakespeare a Modern-Day Makeover (Part 1)

by Adobe UK Team

Posted on 12-09-2019

As part of our partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and in support of our joint mission to bring more creativity into the classroom, we recently commissioned five UK artists and photographers to reimagine iconic Shakespeare scenes for the 21st century.

We challenged them to put their own twist on iconic scenes from Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream using Adobe’s Creative Cloud tools, such as Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere Pro.

We caught up with two of the artists – fantasy photographer Rosie Hardy and conceptual artist Darryll Jones – to find out more about their creations, the inspirations behind them and their advice for young people looking to break into the creative industries.

Why was the Reimagine Shakespeare campaign important for you to be a part of?
: I went to drama school every weekend as a kid, so theatre and Shakespeare has always been a big part of my life and influenced my love of fantasy photography. I was actually cast as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream years ago, so it was wonderful to be able to dive back into the magic of the play. The campaign is a lovely cross-over between two companies which I love – Adobe and the RSC. Reimagining Shakespeare is so important to keep the younger generation in touch with the magic of the ‘old’ and keeping the stories of the past alive.

Darryll: I think it’s a great campaign to get kids thinking creatively and knowing how they can use the technology at their fingertips to create anything they can imagine. It’s why I enjoy having my kids help in the images I create with Eric for my Instagram. If I think back to my days at school, when everything was manual, I’d get excited as a 13-year-old just being able to photocopy album covers in black and white and fax it to myself. This campaign made me think about how far we have come.

What is the inspiration behind your Reimagine Shakespeare** artwork that you have created for Adobe and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)?
Rosie**: I took on Shakespeare’s iconic play A Midsummer Night’s Dream and chose to portray the character Titania. I wanted Titania to be instantly recognisable as herself in the scene with the costuming and setting, but to also have some modern elements, inspiring people to learn more about her character story.

Darryll: I was very excited to be a part of this project. I have a love for visual storytelling and this brief allowed me to take an extremely well-known (and loved) Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, and create something completely fresh. I feature a Stormtrooper character called Eric in my work and used him to ‘reimagine’ the iconic balcony scene.

Darryll Jones, Romeo and Juliet (Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop)

Could you talk us through the creative process you went through in making these images?
: My creative process starts with conceptualisation and thinking of imagery that captures someone’s attention. Beautiful ball gowns and fantasy themes are common throughout my work, so it seemed logical to keep those in place given the dreamy nature of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I hired the wing accessories, purchased the gown, and sourced the moon. I then spent a day driving a huge van to Doncaster to collect everything. All my images are a one-woman-band, so creatively this all takes a lot of organisation. I modelled in the image as well as photographing it – setting my camera on a tripod and using the intervalometer feature.

My editing process using Adobe Lightroom was quite intensive – adding five separate images of fog/smoke into the scene, plus the lightbulbs and doing adjustments to the shape of the moon.

Darryll: From the start, I wanted to keep a classic element of the stone balcony with drapes, so began exploring ways of constructing it from scratch, bearing in mind my ‘Eric’ figures are 12” tall. I sketched the concept using Adobe Photoshop Sketch on my iPad, using references from old balcony images. I then began completely constructing and painting the set, which was both daunting and exciting. I used cardboard boxes to create the set – and my children also got stuck in with the painting once I had the basic shapes. I’m a single dad so having them be a part of what I do creatively is very important to me. I printed out Shakespeare movie posters for the walls, used clay for the miniature mobile phones and gathered moss and leaves from outside to litter the ‘streets’ with.

Once I had all the images, I used Adobe Lightroom to make little adjustments such as colour enhancing, cropping and toning. Then I used Adobe Photoshop for any major retouches, such as the graffiti on the wall behind Eric, the lights on his motorbike and the glow from their phone screens. It’s a massive understatement to say how important Adobe is in my everyday life as a photographer, and that’s the beauty of Creative Cloud. It has become so engrained in my creative process; it allows me to concentrate on the making more than the mechanics.

Rosie Hardy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Adobe Lightroom)

Why do you think it’s important to bring creativity into the classroom?
: I certainly was not one of those pupils who learned via being told something! For me, creativity is doing things by yourself, for yourself, and thinking with your own mind. No one’s interpretation of Titania, Shakespeare, his plays or characters will ever be entirely the same – and that’s the fun of it.

Darryll: Creativity is everything to me, it always has been. There is no wrong or right – it empowers us because it is the freedom of our own expression. Being creative is something that comes from inside, something you dream or daydream about. With today’s tools, you can turn it into reality quite easily. I can’t imagine there will be a day when I don’t wake up and have a crazy idea – be it a painting, a poem, a story or a photograph. What better place to encourage thoughts like this than in the classroom?

Darryll Jones, Romeo and Juliet (Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop)

What would be your advice to any young people, either just starting out in their careers or looking to break into the creative industries?
: My advice would be to enjoy what you do and not get too sucked into doing things because they’re ‘on trend’. I’d also say to try and be as original as you can. Sometimes learning how to do something for the first time requires a degree of imitation. But the great thing about art is the freedom to put your own spin on something.

Darryll: It sounds cliché but, follow your heart. No matter what people say, how negative they are, how they tell you that you’ll never make a living, do what makes you happy. Keep learning, keep looking around you at what others are doing and learn what you can from them, adapt it to your own style and grow. Use the tools available, there are so many, and dream. But never ever give up, and never ever stop playing.

As part of its partnership with the RSC, Adobe is currently co-presenting the RSC’s popular First Encounters with Shakespeare tour, featuring 90-minute adaptations of Shakespeare for 7-13-year olds, and providing a digital learning experience for Adobe Spark** and Creative Cloud. Adobe Spark is available to all schools free-of-charge and can be used by students to create infographics, graphics and videos for school projects.**

You can flick through the full digital artwork series and find out more information about the partnership here: adobe.ly/2MHzQ3l,.

Follow us on Twitter: @AdobeUK / @AdobeUKStudents / @TheRSC / #ReimagineShakespeare

Topics: Design, Photography, Illustration, Creative Photography, Inspiration, Photoshop CC, Adobe Photoshop CC, advice for creatives, advice for designers, illustration, Lightroom CC, photography, UK, UK Exclusive, Creative EMEA

Products: Creative Cloud, Lightroom, Photoshop