Although scholars have long considered the material conditions surrounding the production of early modern drama, until now, no book-length examination has sought to explain what was worn on the period's stages and, more importantly, how articles of apparel were understood when seen by contemporary audiences. Robert Lublin's new study considers royal proclamations, religious writings, paintings, woodcuts, plays, historical accounts, sermons, and legal documents to investigate what Shakespearean actors actually wore in production and what cultural information those costumes conveyed. Four of the chapters of Costuming the Shakespearean Stage address 'categories of seeing': visually based semiotic systems according to which costumes constructed and conveyed information on the early modern stage. The four categories include gender, social station, nationality, and religion. The fifth chapter examines one play, Thomas Middleton's A Game at Chess, to show how costumes signified across the categories of seeing to establish a play's distinctive semiotics and visual aesthetic.
Robert I. Lublin is Chair of Performing Arts at the University of Massachusetts Boston, USA.
'... this enjoyable book provides significant insights... Recommended.' Choice 'Written in a clear and straightforward manner, Lublin’s study provides - for literary critics, stage practitioners, and students - an informative, approachable, and stimulating overview that spotlights the centrality of costumes as symbolic vehicles on the early modern stage.' Renaissance Quarterly 'This methodical, informative book is a welcome addition to the investigation of early modern theatrical practices and the complex role of clothing in early modern society.' Shakespeare Bulletin 'Costuming the Shakespearean Stage represents an elucidatory survey of the practicalities, conventions and symbolism of theatrical apparel in arguably the most exciting, productive and variegated period of dramatic production in the history of the English language.' Review of English Studies