“Bardrobing:” Conventions and Inventions in Costume Design Across Shakespeare Performance History

Olivia Rutigliano, University of Pennsylvania

This paper was part of the 2012-2013 Penn Humanities Forum on Peripheries. Find out more at http://www.phf.upenn.edu/annual-topics/peripheries.


Since their emergence on the British stage in the end of the sixteenth century, Shakespeare's plays have everywhere been adapted, translated, and performed. As they have been understood, interpreted, and accepted across highly different cultures and eras, the physical representations of each character have varied depending on the culture surrounding each production. Costume design is one notable element that helps transform a character from a readable entity to a viewable one. Costumes also situate the character within a particular cultural understanding, influenced as they are by numerous norms from contemporary fashion trends to political and social ideals. My research proposes new methods by which to wardrobe certain Shakespearian heroines by linking the distinct academic realms of fashion/fine arts, literature, and theatrical history. In studying both modern and historical adaptations of several different plays, as well as the history of Shakespearian costume design and fashion, I physically create costumes for one heroine from each play that communicates her literary identity and elements of her theatrical legacy.


Date Posted: 17 November 2016