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Dramatic Flora: Classic Uses of Flowers in Theatre

A trip to the theatre is a night out to remember, even if you are sat in the gods. With catchy sing-alongs, energetic dance routines and beautiful costumes you can really appreciate the care and attention that has gone into this fine art. From Roman head garlands to jungle set creations, plants play a huge part in the theatre. Fantastical costumes and realistic sets alike use flowers to create dramatic imagery for the audience’s imaginations to run wild with the narrative. Have you ever considered the classic uses of flowers in the theatre? Here is a brief overview:

Buy artificial flowers

Real flowers are rarely used in theatre and only make an appearance as a gift at the stage door after a performance. Set designers will buy artificial flowers for sets, props and costumes as real flowers will wilt and need to be replaced. Theatre production companies are often on a tight budget and can simply not afford to purchase fresh flowers on a regular basis. Just don’t jinx the show by presenting a bouquet before the show begins!

Flowers for costumes

Flowers are used subtly with costumes in the theatre. Costume designers will buy artificial flowers to suit the theme or era depicted in the play. A great example of the use of artificial plants can be seen in the Shakespearean plays Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus where leaf garlands and wreaths are placed on the heads of characters with great power.


Flowers for set design

You have probably seen the animated Disney classics The Lion King and The Jungle Book but did you know they have highly popular stage adaptations? Running for 14 and 19 years respectively these shows are a roaring success and a theatrical event you will never forget.

Both these stories are set in exotic locations, the Indian jungle and the pride lands of Africa, and therefore require a natural and earthy backdrop. Trailing plants and leafy bushes create a lush green space for the characters of The Jungle Book while dried grass-like foliage lines the stage for The Lion King.

New musicals are also fans of natural settings including Shrek the Musical and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Other uses of flowers in the theatre

  • Phantom of the Opera is one of the longest running theatre shows and throughout its history has been symbolised by a white mask and the classic red rose.
  • New show Storm in a Flower Vase tells the story of the iconic floral designer Constance Spry and flowers play a vital component in the narrative. With beautiful white calla lilies and fern displays, the stage is awash with green foliage to resemble the setting of Spry’s florist shop.
  • Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is set in the hippie 60’s and follows the political issues of the time. Due to its context floral prints are rife in the costume design.

You now know how flowers have been used in the history of theatre. So, next time you go to the West End stock up on flowers and throw single stemmed roses on to the stage to show your appreciation for the theatre. Bravo!

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