“THE apparel oft proclaims the man”, Polonius advises his son Laertes in ‘Hamlet’. It’s advice that could easily be a motto for the people who have been working in a busy Welburn warehouse over the last few months.

The warehouse is part of the main premises of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions. Once again, Lunchbox are organising this year’s huge Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre project - which, from tomorrow, will see performances of the Bard's plays beginning not only at the pop-up replica 16th-century Rose Theatre in York but also at a similar one in Oxfordshire. Two plays will even be taken abroad, with performances put on as far afield as the Philippines.

Producing the costumes for such a project is a mind-bogglingly complex operation. And this year, it’s mostly being done in-house right here in Rydale: 500 costumes for eight different plays, each in its own setting and with its own visual language.

The costumes are being created by around 20 costume makers who, as I enter the warehouse, are bustling around in an atmosphere of quiet industry.

“Coming out here is marvellous,” says Sara Perks, who is back as a designer on some of the individual plays, but also has an overseer role for the season.

Other plays have their own designers, who have worked to get a visual ‘look’ with the plays’ directors, but Sara, the producers and the artistic director made sure that there is a nice cross section of design across the shows. “So we didn’t end up with two shows set in the 20s,” she says.

For example, Adrian Linford who designed The Tempest, has created a distinctive Edwardian steampunk style.

Sara’s normally based in London but is up north for the Rose Theatre.

“I’m flitting backwards and forwards. I’m in rehearsals quite a lot and I’m popping down to site now and then.

“What we gain being out here is a lovely room, all the proper equipment, all the facilities and it’s a nice and calm atmosphere.”

In York, the four plays this summer will be Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night.

How on earth do you approach designing a Shakespeare play - say, Hamlet, for example - to be performed in a 900 capacity theatre?

“For Hamlet there’s a tight colour palette of cream and black,” Sara says. “Part of that comes from experience: because I did the shows last year I get a strong feeling of what the space is.

“It’s about being incredibly robust with your visual choices, because it’s such a huge space and it dominates. I’ve told that to all the other designers - if you make a decision, make a big one. Be bold.

“We wanted something that was very clean in its look, and very stylish. Hamlet traditionally is all in black because there’s verse about him being in his ‘funeral weeds’. Once you decide you’re going to honour that you ask; what do we put everyone else in?

“We do have a burst of colour that comes in with the Players - that’s a real jump when they come in.”

She also confesses the look was also influenced by seeing the recent film ‘The Favourite’ starring Olivia Colman. “Those costumes were stunning. I just thought - that’ll look great on that stage.”

One of the wardrobe assistants, Katie Duxbury, is working on a 1920s-style dress for Twelfth Night. She is sewing the hem of a skirt entirely by hand, to give it a more authentic look and to change how it hangs.

“I like it, you get to see things and you don’t get bored. You’ve got to have a creative mind to do it but at the same time you’re very much working to someone else’s proscribed vision.”

Another costume maker, Simeon Morris, is making a regal cape for one of the characters in Richard III. I’m surprised by the weight and heft of the material. “She’s also wearing this skirt with suspenders,” Simeon says, indicating the garment. “She’s going to have to work hard.” I recall stories from the theatre last year which saw the actors wear ice packs under the clothes through the hot summer.

He comes from a background in TV and fashion and has just been working on a film in Hungary: this is a comparatively calm gig. “It’s very beautiful out here. It’s a pastoral idyll. There are certainly worse places to drive to work every morning.”

Theatre is very different from film - less constant pressure each day. “The thing about theatre is that you’re working up to a performance. There’s an opening night. There’s a finality to it - an end point. Film’s not like that. In that sense this is much more rewarding.”

The actors come out to Welburn from York for their costume fittings, but are spending much of their time rehearsing in the huge ‘rehearsal village’ at the Designer Outlet on the outskirts of York. It’s a massive 2,100 square metres of tentage; once again, something that hasn’t been done before.

James Cundall, who runs Lunchbox, says: “We decided to rehearse on-site in Yorkshire because we thought it would be a lovely collegiate experience. It’s probably the largest rehearsal area in Europe.”

He paints a picture of people doing their shopping and suddenly hearing an actor reciting a sonnet. “In Shakespeare’s time they would have rehearsed in the centre of a town,” he said.

Once again at the Rose Theatre in York there will be a food court outside the theatre, selling as many Yorkshire products as they can.

“We should be proud that something like this is being undertaken in Ryedale,” James says.

Aside from the York and Blenheim Palace shows and the plays being taken to Manilla, he added there are plans afoot to take the theatre to Dublin next year and they’re also looking further afield.

“We’re aiming for America,” he says. “This is a real international project.”