The Costume Sketch
Basic assignment: to design and present a costume sketch for a character from a play. (Individual work, or small groups if Activity Extensions are used)
- Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare (or another selection): one of the two monologues provided (or another selection of your choice)
- Articles from The Secret Life of Costumes:
- read the chosen play and be familiar with the action
- situate characters in any historical period, location, etc. and defend their choices
- create a character sketch (indicate age, sex, status, situation, motivation)
- make decisions as to a hypothetical production’s atmosphere, and style
- reflect the state of the character at the moment of the monologue through costume
- create a costume design that shows, in colour, the decisions that were made.
Students present the design to the class, and discuss their choices. (Students may opt to include samples of fabric, or magazine pictures, etc. that provided inspiration.)
Activity Extension 1
to create the above costume in any material (fabric, paper, plastic, other) staying as close to the original design as possible.
Students may build the costume from scratch, use found pieces, or find their own way.
Students present the design and finished costume to the class, and discuss their choices.
Activity Extension 2
to create a costume for an actor (student) who will deliver the chosen monologue. The costume must fit and be appropriate for and helpful to the actor.
- Create costume as above, using actor’s measurements, and the action of the text.
- Memorize and work the monologue, ideally with a student director, who collaborates with the design creators.
Students present the finished costume "in action" preceded or followed by the design presentation.
i) Juliet is alone, impatiently waiting for her Nurse to return from meeting with Romeo. Juliet hopes for news about their wedding. (Act 2, Scene 5)
The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse;
In half an hour she ‘promis’d to return.
Perchance she cannot meet him – that’s not so.
O, she is lame! Love’s heralds should be thoughts,
Which ten times faster glides than the sun’s beams,
Driving back shadows over low’ring hills;
Therefore do nimble-pinion’d doves draw Love,
And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings.
Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
Of this day’s journey, and from nine till twelve
Is three long hours, yet she is not come.
Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be swift in motion as a ball;
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me.
But old folks – many feign as they were dead,
Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.
ii) Romeo’s heated response to Friar Lawrence who told him that he should be thankful that the Prince has punished him with banishment rather than of death. (Act 3, Scene 3)
‘Tis torture and not mercy. Heaven is here
Where Juliet lives, and every cat and dog
And little mouse, every unworthy thing,
Live here in heaven and may look on her,
But Romeo may not. More validity,
More honorable state, more courtship lives
In carrion flies than Romeo; they may seize
On the white wonder of dear Juliet’s hand,
And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
Who, even in pure and vestal modesty,
Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin;
But Romeo may not, he is banished.
Flies may do this, but I from this must fly;
They are free men, but I am banished:
And sayest thou yet that exile is not death?