Hollow Crown - Costumes

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Simon Atford
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Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Simon Atford » Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:47 pm

In order to avoid further hijacking of a thread dealing with Welsh costume in the 14th Century.

Does it matter that the costumes in the new TV adaptations of Shakespere's "History Plays" are a bit all over the place?

Fox wrote:
It's bloomin' random, that's what it is.
I wish they'd either do proper historical costume, or modern costume, or contemporised period costume, or even full on fantasy costume. The apparently historical costume is quite frustrating.

We've agreed that we'll just ignore costume, and armour and other props for the whole series, because otherwise it's unwatchable and we have to stop the playback everytime a new character appears on screen.

Sometimes, we fail in this resolve.



My view is this. Shakespere's Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V are not historically accurate. They are a portrayal of events from the late 14th and early 15th centuries written in the late 16th century. A truly 'authentic' version of Shakespere would be in Tudor costume, as has been done at the reconstructed Globe. Yes the costumes might be a bit 'fantasy' but at least the dialogue is good which is more than be said for many 'historical' dramas.
Last edited by Simon Atford on Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:34 pm

'Because it's only half crap, rather than all crap, it's alright?".

We should expect the BBC to aproach it's Medieval costume dramas with the same level of care and effort as it does it's Dickens and Bronte, for which it is so respected.

That said, it's just a TV show at the end of the day, so we should be able to enjoy it inspite of crap costumes.


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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby John Waller » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:08 pm

I once saw a youth theatre version of Julius Ceasar. It was set in a Northern Ireland secondary school with JC as the headmaster and featured lots of people in para-military dress - balaclavas, dark glasses, berets etc. Seemed to work though I only really went to see it 'cos a girl I fancied was in it.

It the production values and the acting are good then you don't notice the costumes eg like in Braveheart :)


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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Simon Atford » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:20 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:'

We should expect the BBC to aproach it's Medieval costume dramas with the same level of care and effort as it does it's Dickens and Bronte, for which it is so respected.




Two points:

1: The thing about Dickens, Bronte and other C19th authors that evidence about clothing etc. is much more extensive than it is for earlier periods. There's even a fair bit of high status stuff still extant.

2: Whilst you could do versions of thes plays in fully authentic (given the evidence) late C14th and C15th costume you would still be using Shakespere's words which are full of anachronisms.

For me these are the some of the only 'period' dramas in which I'm not that bothered about the costumes . I've payed more attention to the locations and enjoyed playing "spot the castle" . Of course the locations are not strictly correct either as they are shown as they are now rather as they were in the medieval period. I spotted Richard II using a hand rail to come down the stairs at Pembroke. C14th Heath and Safety anyone?

John Waller wrote:
It the production values and the acting are good then you don't notice the costumes eg like in Braveheart :)


The costumes are the least of Braveheart's problems :roll:



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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Brother Kevfael » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:15 pm

[quoteIt the production values and the acting are good then you don't notice the costumes eg like in Braveheart ][/quote]

The RSC production of Julius Ceasar which was screened a couple of weeks prior to "The Hollow Crown" is a case in point. Modern dress, but superb performances, especially by Ray Fearon as Mark Antony. I saw him at the RSC in Stratford as "Othello", I doubt I will ever see better.



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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Simon Atford » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:15 pm

Got that on my +box but haven't watched it yet. Looks good though 8-)



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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Dave B » Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:52 pm

Personally I think it's defenceable. The plays were probably origionally performed either in tudor dress or in costume that represented roughly what a tudor layman thought medieval costume looked like. So I see nothing wrong with doing it in tudor dress, or modern dress, or costume that is simply a modern take on an idea of medeival dress.

That said I think that there is a risk that people watch it and think what they are seeing is accurate medieval costume, so I would have preffered it if they had gone either 'authentic' or more clearly 'fantasy'.

I do like sheakspeare done in random period dress. I've seen 'Much ado' in spanish civil war kit, and Othello in modern desert battledress - all kinds. I think it's kind of fun and reinforces the 'timeless' nature of the plays.


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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Fox » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:22 am

My problem with Hollow Crown costume is that it doesn't really seem to be anything in particular.

I'm perfectly happy with redressing the plays to another time and location;

And I even like the idea of playing with the costume.
When I saw the RSC do "Women Beware Women" all the older characters were authentic tudor dress, but all the young characters where in modern re-inventions of the same, doublet sleeves safety pinned on, a kind of tudor-hoodie thing.
It all worked very well.

But I object [only a little] to the Hollow Crown costumes because I do not think they've gained anything from not having absolutely authentic costume; I more get the impression that often they just got out whatever they could find in the dressing up box, rather than for any artistic reason.

However, I've been able to put all that aside after some cracking performances by some of our best actors.
Although I would prefer a different interpretation of Richard II, although I know the one given is quite usual.



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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Brother Kevfael » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:16 am

A notable attempt to portray "Hamlet" in accurate clothing was Richard Dreyfuss's production at the Old Rep, Birmingham, in 1994. It was set in the Seventh Century, which was when Shakespeare's source, Saxo Grammaticus, dated the events to. More fur, wool and leather, than any Hamlet I have ever seen. The Ghost of Hamlet's father wore a gjermundbu helmet, (to the pedants, yes it may be 10th Century, but at least they were trying)



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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Dave B » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:08 am

Fox wrote:I more get the impression that often they just got out whatever they could find in the dressing up box, rather than for any artistic reason.


I rather got the impression it was because someone was trying to be too artistic:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/2012/07/henry-iv-v-shakespeare.shtml

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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Phil the Grips » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:30 am

Pretty much all "Medieval " costume for stage and TV comes from a giant warehouse in Italy which gets perused by costuming bods who are often told by their staff that it is OK and they simply deliver by the crateload to the set where it gets handed out.

It's why you can see the same kit in Robin Hood (most versions but especially the Costner), Cadfael, Ivanhoe! and Braveheart, among many others.


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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Dave B » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:35 am

The RSC normally put in a pretty good effort though.

On the bright side, this has reminded me how much I love good shakespeare, and that I haven't been to Stratford since september (Patrick Stewart in the merchant of venice, In modern dress in Las Vagas complete with Elvis, Bassanio as a wide boy and the husband choosing bit as a blind date type gameshow). I'm going to book myself a weekend away in November. I wonder whats on.


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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:02 pm

Dave B wrote:That said I think that there is a risk that people watch it and think what they are seeing is accurate medieval costume, so I would have preffered it if they had gone either 'authentic' or more clearly 'fantasy'.

I do like sheakspeare done in random period dress. I've seen 'Much ado' in spanish civil war kit, and Othello in modern desert battledress - all kinds. I think it's kind of fun and reinforces the 'timeless' nature of the plays.


I agree with this. I'm quite happy with Shakespear to be transplanted into other periods (though I do like to see it done in the proper kit once in a while), so long as it's done with commitment. This gains nothing (as Fox said) and worse because some of it is good, makes people think the all of it is right. Then, when we've gone to the effort to ACTUALLY* get it right, people know that we've got it wrong because we don't look like the ones on the BBC.

I'm afraid that I don't have any tollerance for the 'its hard to get it right, so we'll do some of it right and fill the rest in from the dressing up box' approach that the BBC have taken. Do or do not, there is no 'sort of'. Is it really that hard/expensive to get a consultant in? There are professors and published authors in this area after all.

That said, I'm still really enjoying them! :D

* = All usual caveats apply about the fact that we're no-where near right, but at least closer than this...


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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Jim Smith » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:12 pm

It's well said that historical re-enactors are the last people who should be relied upon for balanced comment on a historical play/film. At our worst we just sound like a bunch of whinging anoracks. (And I'm guilty as charged in that respect).

The main 'problem' is that costume/set designers are more concerned with getting the 'feel' of the piece right than they are with historical accuracy. Also, let's be honest here, most people outside the re-enactment community would have been quite happy with what they saw.


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Re: Hollow Crown - Costumes

Postby Fox » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:58 pm

Jorge once said to me something to the effect of "why get wrong, when you could just as easily get it right?"

It's a motto to do re-enactment by; and, probably, likewise BBC Shakespeare adaptations.

Even the public should have noticed that one of the Lords at Shrewsbury had the worst fitting helmet and chain coif, EVER.
He looked rediculous. Which seems odd when they've gone to such a lot of trouble otherwise.




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