Shopping for the Archives: Fashioning a Costume Collection

Peter Holland (Editor), Katharine Dorney

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This article offers an account of the perils and pleasures of collecting and working with theatrical costumes to construct a material reading of performance. Beginning with the formation and development of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s costume collection I then take two productions as my main texts: Harley Granville Barker’s Twelfth Night of 1912, designed by Norman Wilkinson, and Peter Brook’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream of 1970, designed by Sally Jacobs. In this reading, the productions are joined through their design - and the way in which their design relates to fashionable clothing of the time. From Lillah McCarthy’s green Chinese silk robe to Sara Kestleman’s fake silk one, all the wardrobe is a silk, or artificial silk, kaftan. The slipperiness of the silk is a useful metaphor for the slippery nature of performance remains, particularly costumes which can be re-made, mended and re-purposed in ways that make them hard to read. What follows is an attempt to read the non-textual remains of performance with the same attentiveness scholars bring to Shakespeare’s texts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShakespeare Survey 71
EditorsPeter Holland
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)1108470831, 9781108470834
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameShakespeare Survey


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