Costuming All’s Well That Ends Well

It’s appropriate that as I sit writing this blog post about designing costumes for All’s Well That Ends Well that I have the fabulous movie The Princess Bride playing in the background… because it is a bit like our world for All’s Well…

From early on in the design process, Russ asked me to think about this play as a Fairy Tale or Fable… full of iconic characters that live “once upon a time”… and full of madcap witty humor, magical cures, dark shadows, and happy (or at least deserved) endings. The challenge in approaching a design as a fairy tale, especially for a Shakespeare play, is to find a way to tap into that vocabulary without simplifying the sophisticated story… the adultness inherent in Shakespeare’s work.  How do we create a fairy tale for adults?  How do we use the iconic without taking away the pain of unrequited love, the embarrassment of receiving inappropriate affection, the dark places that men in prolonged combat find?

I was an especially lucky costume designer that Russ sent me beautiful pictures of the Unicorn Tapestries and other medieval finds from a recent trip to Europe to inspire me… and I did my own research into the gorgeous, haunting, dark illustrations of Arthur Rackham (if you don’t know his work, I suggest you google him right now)!

And so, after mushing this all up…  along with the creative input of the HVS actors that I have come to adore and admire over the last 3 years: Wes, Jason, and Rick… and the actors I have just met: Jessica who gives Helena a lovely heart, Dan and Dan who make such an enchanting Mother and Son, Ara who will charm you with music, and Jeff who makes a most beguiling wench… I think we have created our Kingdom.  It still has a lot of growing to do, but I hope you will take the journey with us next month.  Now, Inigo is about to find the Man in Black in the Pit of Despair, so I have to go.  See you at Boscobel!

The Widow costume sketch

The Widow costume sketch


Countess Costume Sketch

Countess Costume Sketch


Costuming King Lear and Three Musketeers

This season rings a new and exciting challenge for me. It is the first time I have taken on the design of two of the festivals productions. Each show has a very different sensibility, so I spend my days switching from the opulence of c17th century France and the mystic world of Ancient Britain.

I am making full use of our wonderful new costume space at Winter Hill in Garrison, which is at present filled Musketeer hats, Cardinal robes and lots of corsets and on the other side of the studio, the rustic robes of King Lear and his daughters.

The first round of fittings for Three Musketeers have taken place and I am getting ready to fit the cast of Lear in the costumes later next week. All of this work requires expert help , so I am very lucky to have two wonderful assistants working with me . Aleksandra Kolanko has been fashioning beautiful garments for the likes of Milady and the King of France and Jana Violante is busy creating signature pieces for Lear and his clan.

In a few short weeks we will move everything to the tent and start to see the costumes come to life with each actor’s performance.

– Charlotte Palmer-Lane

Milady's dress for the ball in Progress

The Three Musketeers: Milady’s dress, in Progress

Goneril Costume

King Lear: Goneril Costume, ready to be fitted