THE Royal Shakespeare Company is to open its first ever ever permanent exhibition devoted to the subject of Shakespeare and his plays.

It will welcome its first visitors on October 22, in time for the autumn half-term holiday.

A spokesman said: "This new family-friendly visitor attraction, The Play’s The Thing, will be in the Swan Wing, at the Company’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"The Play’s The Thing allows visitors to explore the imaginative ways that Shakespeare’s stories, settings and characters have been brought to life on stage. This immersive exhibition highlights some of the RSC’s most iconic theatre productions and features treasures from the archive, including rarely-seen props, exquisite costumes and original set designs."

The spokesman added: "It also reveals some of the RSC’s more gory theatrical secrets, including how a snapping carrot can replicate the noise of bone breaking, how crispy cereals and glue are mixed to make scabs and how actors keep soup in their mouths so they can ‘vomit’ on stage."

Hands-on digital experiences will include a magic costume mirror for visitors to try on virtual costumes, in the Quick Change Challenge.

Visitors will also be able to explore how set design, lighting, sound and music all help to create the world of Shakespeare on stage.

Many famous faces have performed at the RSC and the exhibition will include costumes worn by David Tennant, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Laurence Olivier, Paul Robeson and Vivien Leigh.

To mark the opening, the Chandos portrait, a unique portrait of Shakespeare painted during his lifetime will be on display for a limited time only.

The spokesman said: "The portrait has lived at the National Portrait Gallery since it was founded in 1856, only leaving the building on a few occasions since that time. It will be loaned to the RSC for a limited time and will sit alongside a rare first folio of Shakespeare’s plays, dating from 1623."

Geraldine Collinge, Director of Events and Exhibitions said: "People love to find out how we make our productions and discover the many brilliant skills that go into bringing Shakespeare’s work alive. Our new exhibition opens the door to some of those secrets and stories and will give visitors access to our rarely seen collection of costumes and props.

"They will be able to experience theatre making for themselves with interactive digital experiences, hear from the actors who have performed on our world-famous stages, and find out more about how we create our productions today.”