In her book The Actor in Costume, Aoife McGrath argues that costumes provoke a range of questions; not least of how the costume relates to the body of specific authors, and how the then-embodied costume evokes responses from an audience. This paper will consider questions of costume with an analysis of costumes designed by Peter Corrigan for Barrie Kosky’s Bell Shakespeare Company production of Lear (1998), and their particular juxtaposition of a heightened theatricality with suburban ugliness. Professor Rachel Fensham will argue that the Bell conception of costume ranges from the 'archaeological', to a flagrant use of everyday clothing, to a stylized borrowing of costumes from Japan in Kosky’s 1992 Hamlet. This paper will consider to what extent these choices shaped the performance for an audience, and what might be learnt from them about Shakespeare in Australia.
Rachel Fensham is Head of the School of Culture and Communication, and a dance and theatre scholar. She is currently involved in three distinct research projects that respectively involve digital archives, modern dance and costume histories, and evaluation of the affective impact of theatre. With Professor Peter M. Boenisch, she is co-editor of the Palgrave book series, "New World Choreographies" which has just launched its fifth title. She is also co-editor for The Interdisciplinary Research Methods Handbook (Routledge, in progress) and a member of the editorial boards of "Performance Research" and "Theatre, Dance and Performance Training".