Globe Theatre Costumes
The Globe Theatre Costumes
were fabulous - sumptuous materials, vivid colors and
extremely costly. The costumes did not always reflect the
correct period of the Play. The Globe actors
generally wore the dress of their own time. Some were specifically made
for the actors and some were donated by rich patrons. The
Globe plays had to be produced in a great hurry in order to
ensure a rapid turnover of new material and performances for the insatiable Elizabethan
audience and to beat the competition from rival theatres. Not enough
time was available to build up a ready made store of costumes which
reflected the correct period of the play. The costumes in a
play, such as Julius Caesar, would have been easier to develop as togas
are relatively easy to make. In this instance a combination of Roman
clothes and Elizabethan clothing might well have been seen
Globe Theatre Costumes
Elizabethans were forbidden to wear clothes indicating a high status...
To understand the impact of the costumes worn during the time of William
Shakespeare it is necessary to learn a little of the laws which
determined the clothes which were worn during the Elizabethan Era.
The Elizabethan period dominated by the
Class structure. Elizabethans were not
allowed to wear whatever they liked! It did not matter how rich they
were - the fabric, and even the style of their clothes were dictated by their
rank or status. These strict rules were enforced by English
Laws about clothing which were called
Sumptuary Laws. They were designed to limit the expenditure on
clothes - and to maintain the social structure of the
Elizabethan Class system! Lower Class Elizabethans were not able to wear
the latest fashions. Fashionable clothes would only be seen at a
distance, when wealthy nobles or were in view! Costumes in the
Elizabethan Theatre would therefore double as a fashion show! It was illegal to wear items of
clothing which indicated a high rank or status. This would have been disastrous for clothing actors in appropriate costumes
relative to a King or noble. These
English Sumptuary Laws were strictly obeyed and the penalties for violating
Sumptuary Laws could be harsh - fines, the loss of property, title and
even life! Elizabethan men and women therefore only wore clothes that they were allowed to
wear - by Law! But like the Laws of today there was the usual 'get out' clause!
The upper classes wanted to maintain the elite class system but they also
wanted to enjoy the new form of entertainment that the Theatre had to
Globe Theatre Costumes - the
Sumptuary Laws and the Globe Actors
The English Sumptuary Law of 1574 ( The Statutes of Apparel ) contained the
" Note also that the meaning of this order is not to prohibit a servant
from wearing any cognizance of his master, or henchmen, heralds,
pursuivants at arms; runners at jousts, tourneys, or such martial feats,
and such as wear apparel given them by the Queen, and such as shall have
license from the Queen for the same."
The above 'get out' clause applied to the Globe actors ( and their costumes ). Acting
Troupes had to be licensed. Licenses were granted by the Queen to the
aristocracy for the maintenance of troupes of players - such troupes
included the Earl of Leicester's Men, Lord Strange's Men, Chamberlain's
Men and the Admiral's Men. And these licensed Acting troupes were
allowed to flout the strict Sumptuary Laws. For additional information
click the following link to
Sumptuary Law of 1574 ( The Statutes of Apparel )
Globe Theatre Costumes -
Elizabethans understood the meaning of different colored clothing in
relation to position and status. This concept is totally alien in our modern age
where we are allowed freedom of choice. However, we would recognise that purple
was the color associated with
royalty during the days of the Roman Emperors. But nearly every color of
clothing had its own meaning in relation to status and rank during the Elizabethan era! And these
meanings were totally understood by the audience. The colors, materials
and styles of the Globe Theatre costumes therefore conveyed an enormous amount of information as soon as
the actor walked on to the stage! As soon as a character
walked on the stage the fabric and color of his clothing would indicate
the role of the character he was playing. The character and rank of an
actor wearing a Globe Theatre costume made of velvets, furs, silks or lace
would be instantly recognised as a member of the Upper Class. Cottons and
taffeta would indicate a much lower status.
Globe Theatre Costumes - List
of clothes owned by the Rose Theatre
Philip Henslowe wrote a diary
when he took inventory of the costumes that were owned by the Rose
Theatre. The Globe Theatre costumes and wardrobe would have been of a
Item, j orenge taney satten dublet, layd thycke with gold lace.
Item, j blew tafetie sewt.
Item, j payr of carnatyon satten Venesyons, layd with gold lace.
Item, j longe-shanckes sewte.
Item, ij Orlates sewtes, hates and gorgettes, and vij anteckes hedes.
Item, vj grene cottes for Roben Hoode, and iiij knaves sewtes.
Item, ij black saye gownes, and ij cotton gownes, and j rede saye gowne.
Item, Cathemer sewte, j payer of cloth whitte stockens, iiij Turckes
Item, j mawe gowne of calleco for the quene, j carnowll hatte.
Item, j red sewt of cloth for pyge, layed with whitt lace.
Globe Theatre Costumes
Interesting Facts and information
about the Globe Theatre Costumes. Additional details, facts and information about the
Globe Theatre can be accessed via the Globe Theatre Sitemap.