Happy Shoesday is on Tuesday 16 May 2017

With Happy Shoesday just a few months away, we will be meeting people from all walks of life for whom every day is a Shoesday. 

Jessica Smith, a Senior Technician for The Royal Shakespeare Company in London, spends her days making and sourcing shoes for the actors. Here's what she told us...

Jessica Smith, RSC

How many shoes are used in a current production/season?

"This can vary. It depends on the amount of actors in the show and the design of the show (modern or period)

"Per production there are on average 22 actors wearing approx. 32 pairs plus understudy footwear.

"In 2016 there were around 14 shows in Stratford upon Avon (this doesn’t include extra tours or shows abroad) there were approx. 330 pairs of footwear (period boots, trainers, army boots, men’s lace ups, ladies court shoes etc.) plus understudy pairs and replacements if needed due to wear and tear."

Shoes

Do actors wear different shoes in rehearsals?

"In rehearsals the actors wear their own shoes. If specific footwear or anything different to anything they’ve worn before (eg stilts, clown type shoes, dance shoes, heels for men, actually, heels in general!) is required I will try to provide something similar to what they will wear in the show or if possible the actual footwear."

Assorted footwear

Are shoes made specifically for actors?

"If required. I have an invaluable stock in various styles, sizes and periods. In 2016 we had knee boots, thigh boots, Victorian style boots, tongue and tie shoes made by Theatrical Shoes in London and Harr Theatre Shoes in Germany. There were also a lot of leather boxing boot made by Ringside boots."

Foot drawing

How does someone get involved in this career?

"Well, I trained in Theatre Design and did a shoe-making course, I am also a member of the Society of Shoe Fitters.
I’m not sure you need those specific qualifications to do this job but a love of footwear and Theatre knowledge are a must!

"There aren’t many of these positions around but the job could be likened to a Costume Supervisor but with the specialisation in footwear.

"The skills needed are the ability to research, source, communicate, plan, budget and organise. Footwear and fashion history is useful plus knowledge of feet and measuring is crucial when getting footwear made."

Resoling

Are you ready for Happy Shoesday?

Happy Shoesday is on Tuesday 16 May 2017

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