Dispatch #5 from Inside the R&J Rehearsal Hall: Costume Preview

The latest peek inside the Romeo & Juliet rehearsal room from Cal Shakes Blogging Fellow Peter Selawsky.

In a previous post, I summarized the main points raised by set designer Dan Ostling as he discussed director Shana Cooper’s upcoming production of Romeo & Juliet.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to get a sneak peek of Romeo and Juliet’s costumes with costume designer Christine Crook, so today I want to write about (and show some pictures) of that! Based on Cooper’s vision for the production, Crook has tried to create costumes that reflect an edgy, guerilla street-theater aesthetic. Her costumes feature the heavy use of army green, camouflage, hoods, and rough, heavy black boots. Like the set, the costumes will be pared down to what is essential, exposing the actors and the harsh rawness of the story. The actors will wear masks, however, during the dance party at Capulet’s house where the young lovers first meet. While the costumes will be contemporary, the production will showcase an appreciation for distressed and repurposed things, and this will be reflected in the costumes as well as the set. The masks in particular are made entirely from repurposed costume shop stock.

Caught between a world of secret love and a world of violent masculinity, Romeo’s (Dan Clegg) costume contains bohemian as well as “harder” elements. Clegg appears in a denim jacket and rust-colored corduroy pants, with boots, black suspenders and a belt with rose buckle. The costume of Juliet (Rebekah Brockman), with lace dress, veil, and floral garland, is designed to match many of Romeo’s bohemian elements. She also wears a black leather jacket in some scenes. Other male characters, however, disdain romantic accoutrements: As Tybalt, Nick Gabriel wears a dark jacket and leather kilt with black boots; as the less naturally aggressive Paris, he wears a green sportcoat with green vest and green collar. Most hardened and minimalistic of all, Joseph Parks’ Mercutio wears jeans and an olive green shirt with heavy boots and a chain necklace; his Apothecary covers his face with a hooded sweatshirt. Hoods also feature in Dan Hiatt’s reversible costume, allowing for immediate transformations between the Friar and Lord Capulet. Other rapid costume costumes include Arwen Anderson removing her stocking cap and putting on a coat and eyeglasses to switch from Benvolio to Lady Capulet, and Domenique Lozano putting a wool cape over her base costume to become the Prince. As the Nurse, she wears a calico-colored smock over her base costume.

As of this writing, the actors were preparing to start previews on July 3, and in my next post, I’ll talk about watching the cast’s dress rehearsal, and about the evolution of the production now from the start of the process. Romeo & Juliet runs until July 28, and you can order tickets online at the Cal Shakes website.

Big thanks go to Jay Yamada for making this blogging fellowship possible.

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