Hamlet Dramaturgy

Informing Bethany Lutheran College's Spring 2013 Production. Shows at: April 19, 20, 26, 27 at 7:30pm and April 21 at 2pm

From the Costume Dungeon: Designer Series

Emily Kimball graduated from Bethany with a “fresh theatre degree burning a hole in her pocket” in May 2010. Her journey away from Bethany and back is an interesting one and if you join her down in the costume shop, she will certainly share stories through pins in her mouth and fabric draped all over herself.

Despite being a young designer, Kimball is well aware of how special it is to be able to return “home” to Bethany and work in a department she loves. I sat down with her in the “dungeon” to discuss her work on Hamlet. 

First Steps

Emily’s design research has been a huge cog in the collaborative machine of this production. She uses Pinterest as a medium to gather images she finds and shares them with Pete and other involved in the production.

Gertrude Inspiration

An image from Emily’s Pinterest board. 

While her board has altered perceptions of the concept, Emily insists that starting with the director’s concept is the first step when beginning a design. Before gathering visual research, a designer has to understand what the director’s vision is.

Naturally, that understanding is a process. So after Emily has begun gathering visual research, pulling garments from stock, and sketching designs, she will remain in close contact with the director.  She maintains that that is the beauty of working in such a close-knit community where everyone is doing everything.

“I can text Pete a picture of a dress or run up to his office and ask him to look at something, what other place is like that?”

Creating the Design

When it comes to actually clothing characters, Emily maintains that everything must be character-supported. Particularly when designing for a conceptual show, such as our production of “Hamlet” there is room for creative solutions, but there always needs to be some consistency.

Some directions are obvious choices, Ophelia wears girly fabrics because that is in character and what the director is looking for. Other characters require more thought and exploration. The design for Gertrude has undergone a variety of manifestations because she cannot be approached in a simple manner.

Costuming for the Future

Emily certainly has a long career of costuming ahead of her and is thrilled ot be doing that work at Bethany.

“I enjoy that we do things conceptually based. We do period pieces, but also we do things unexpected.”

And to be sure, her work for “Hamlet” is certainly unexpected.

Lydia Grabau, Dramaturg


4 comments on “From the Costume Dungeon: Designer Series

  1. lissasassypants
    March 27, 2013

    I feel like the unexpected pieces are going to help make this a more accessible version of Hamlet.

    • mglilienthal
      March 28, 2013

      How so? I’m not disagreeing with your statement, but I’m interested in how you see the accessibility resulting from these pieces.

  2. TheDungeon
    April 5, 2013

    My first comment!!

    There is certainly a sense of alienation when you see people wearing something out of the ordinary, especially something from a different time period. The advantage to the early to mid 20th century is that, for the most part, styles haven’t changed too drastically. Men still wear pants. Women still wear skirts. But that is where design comes in. What should you feel when you see Claudius? How is it different from when you see Hamlet? How is it the same? Should the 2 women look similar? Why or why not? What does a color or a fabric say about someone? Who matches? Who doesn’t? All questions I love to figure out.

    How interesting then that it’s now pretty much the norm to set Shakespeare in any other period than Elizabethan. Opera has often gone in this direction too – is it in essence to “dumb it down” in order to keep people connected to a show? Is it easier for people to connect with a character who isn’t wearing pumpkin pants and ruffles out the wazoo?

    Is an audience is no longer the stuffy codgers with their monocles, tail coats, and beaver top hats and women dripping in diamonds and esconced in velvet and floor length fur coats? (I wish! New dress code!) There’s a sense of opulence to ‘the way things were’ that maybe isn’t what contemporary theatre is about. But could it be?!?

    I’m wondering what people expect from this production. People have had access to the Pinboard for some time and while not everything on there is represented in the show there definitely are some specific pieces I used as references. I’m excited to see what the audiences think!

    • hamletdramaturgy
      April 5, 2013

      I’m pretty excited too! While I think it would be reasonable for the audience to expect a stylized production with a more modern setting I think the aesthetic of our show is quite bold. I am excited to see all the elements together.

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This entry was posted on March 26, 2013 by in Notes from the Dramaturg, Production.

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