During Shakespeare’s time, women were not allowed to act on the stage. As male actors played both sexes, costuming was particularly important to distinguish the male characters from the female characters. Robin Belfield of the Royal Shakespeare Company explains that it is up to you to decide how you want your character to look. He explains that Shakespeare plays can be set in any era; Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ could be played in traditional Elizabethan dress, in more modern dress or even in very casual clothing, depending on your vision for the part. He suggests that a well-chosen accessory or prop can help define a character. He recommends using clues from the text to help define your vision for a character’s costume. He believes that costume design should involve using your imagination and creativity.
Pupils could design their own costumes for a Shakespeare character. They could choose a character from a Shakespeare play and research the costumes used from famous stage and film productions to inform their own designs. They could use sketch books to record, review and revisit their ideas.