Putting Hamlet in a hoodie: Critical issues in contemporising Shakespeare through costume design

Taylor, Madeline (2016) Putting Hamlet in a hoodie: Critical issues in contemporising Shakespeare through costume design. In Resilience: Revive, Restore, Reconnect, Australasian Association for Drama Theatre & Performance Studies (ADSA) 2016 Conference Proceedings, Artsworx, Toowoomba, Qld, pp. 98-114.

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There is currently a trend in theatre production to set period texts - notably Shakespeare, in contemporary dress. The Bard’s plays have an enduring and seemingly ubiquitous presence in Australian theatre programming and there is a range of social and economic imperatives encouraging these revivals, such as connections to education curriculum's and audience familiarity. This paper focuses on some of the artistic and cultural results of this practice, and suggests that these play's might not have boundless resilience, nor always be well served by the practice.

Most often the design/directorial decision to "modernise" the play is positioned as making known or familiar traditional texts relevant for modern audiences. This reflects the tensions that surround “high culture” and accessible artistic practice in Australia, with particular reference to the funding imperatives that encourage mass market accessibility. However, due to the cultural position held by the plays, quite often the updating these texts undergoes relies solely on the scenographic elements. This paper argues that this quite often results in production, by default, having a a postmodern aesthetic, as defined by Arnold Aronson and John Storey. The problem identified by this research is that while the production companies promote these revivals as relate-able and accessible works for a modern audience, the ideological framework of postmodernity rejects the idea that there are any universal stories or grand narratives.

The argument is illustrated by recent productions from two key theatre companies in Brisbane, Queensland Theatre Company and La Boite Theatre Company, and this paper uses these productions to evaluate this practice, the aesthetic debates and the ideologies that underpin them.

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ID Code: 96995
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: costume, shakespeare, postmodern, design, theatre
ISSN: 9780994618405
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 [Please consult the author]
Deposited On: 18 Jul 2016 23:17
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2016 01:01

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