Enter the Body: Women and Representation on Shakespeare's Stage

By Carol Chillington Rutter | Go to book overview

4

DESIGNS ON SHAKESPEARE

Troilus’s sleeve, Cressida’s glove, Helen’s placket

Soft, here comes sleeve…Hold thy

whore, Grecian! Now for thy whore,

Trojan! Now the sleeve, now the sleeve!

Troilus and Cressida (5.4.18, 24-25)

In the past, critics reviewed actors; more recently, directors. Today one reviews the designer.

Ralph Berry, On Directing Shakespeare, 1989

Modern dress is one thing. Fancy dress another. With modern dress we know where we are. With fancy dress we might be anywhere, which means anything goes.

Eric Shorter, the Birmingham Post, 13 November 1987

The designer, like the writer and director, may flatter or disturb the dreams of spectators.

Michael Ratcliffe, British Theatre Design, 1998

All art is political.

Michael Bogdanov, The Times Literary Supplement, 28 April 1995


Designs on Bodies

I can date with some precision the moment I learned what a designer does in the theatre: twenty past seven, 11 July 1977, the opening night of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s revival of Terry Hands’ Henry V. Until then, the stage was bare, like a rehearsal room, the actors in rehearsal gear. But when the French Ambassador entered, an aristo in court costume, the under-dressed English began to shift uneasily, bristling at the stranger’s hauteur, the arrogance with which he introduced into their visual poverty the Dauphin’s elaborate gift, a gilded coffer that opened to present a curious ‘engine’, a mechanical hand flourishing—a tennis ball. King Harry’s crooked, boyish smile froze.

-104-

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Enter the Body: Women and Representation on Shakespeare's Stage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Plates ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xix
  • 1 - Body Parts or Parts for Bodies 1
  • 2 - Snatched Bodies 27
  • 3 - Shadowing Cleopatra 57
  • 4 - Designs on Shakespeare 104
  • 5 - Remembering Emilia 142
  • Bibliography 202
  • Index 212
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