WordPlay™ Shakespeare

Now, Half the Page is a Stage...

Apparel Oft Proclaims the Man...

Proclamation-against-Excess-of- g_6463_p155r

We often hear from students who use our Shakespeare eBooks, and one recurring question we get is: "Why do the actors wear modern dress, when the plays are set long ago?" There are several answers to this question (which can often drive a productive class discussion), including the idea that we were focused less on theater with a capital "T", and more on language and diction; that by removing one aspect of cognitive dissonance, we allow students to focus more on diction and rhyme; and that the "neutral" use of clothing allows students to more easily imagine how
they might dress the actors, to further their directing goals.

However, the point of this post is to introduce the idea that Elizabethan England lived under a set of (to us at least) very stringent dress codes (also called
sumptuary laws), which worked along class and wealth lines. To learn more about this, enjoy Liza Picard's excellent article on the subject.