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Hamlet on SL Production Blog

Posted in clothing, 1-1 ...

Act 1 Scene 1 costume research - Marcellus

November 18th, 2007 by ada

MARCELLUS: We don’t know much more about Marcellus than we do about Bernardo, except that he’s listed as an officer in all of the editions I have, seems to be on an equal footing with Horatio, and of high enough rank to address Hamlet as he does after Hamlet meets the Ghost in A1s5. Maybe a nobleman’s younger son, who is older than Hamlet, old enough to feel within his rights to advise him.

Noblemen and middle class men’s clothing had essentially the same construction, except that the nobility had much more expensive decoration. More color (dyes were expensive, though earthier tones than modern dyes), gold and silver embroidery, lace, beads, jewels. Officers who could afford it would wear more armor into battle, and also for ceremonial occasions. See illustration below for typical gentleman’s armor pieces. Note that a gentleman officer at this time would not have worn a standard uniform, which would have been associated with servant’s livery. He provided all of his own clothing and equipment, according to his taste and budget.

Armor: Parts of plate armor include the helm (helmet), gauntlets (arms), gorget (neckguard), breastplate, and greaves (lower legs). Military noblemen wore a few or all of the pieces if they owned them. Since the Ghost is described in the play as in full armor, Marcellus might have a few pieces, but should not be shown in full armor. His costume would be otherwise be that of a conservative civilian, as follows:

Shirt: Noblemen’s shirts could be literally covered in blackwork, drawn thread work, and other types of needlework, sometimes further embellished with gold thread or small beads, pearls, or gems.

Nether hose, stockings, doublet, sleeves and gloves: Same choices as for Bernardo, except with richer trim. Note that trim on doublets often follows a triangular pattern from the shoulders to the waist, which gives the illusion of broad shoulders and a narrow waistline. The backs should be decorated like the fronts. Noblemen’s clothing often has a narrower profile, perhaps to set off the more expensive materials. Less slashing, and more embroidery, jewelry, beads, and lace. Protestant men of the time wore darker colors than Catholic men, usually, so the men at Elizabeth’s court are usually depicted in rich dark colors. The play, on the other hand, shows Catholic ceremonies and depictions (the Ghost’s description of purgatory, the king seeking absolution at prayer) with the exception of the references to the University of Wittenberg, which was the think tank for the Protestant Reformation. So Marcellus could be more brightly dressed than Horatio on stage.

Cloak: Noblemen always wore them, unless they were in full armor. They are usually richly ornamented on both sides, and can have straight collars, sometimes of fur, or the entire cape can be fur lined. The shape is generally a three quarter circle, hip to waist length (full length cloaks are earlier, or for ceremonies). They had long ties to hold them on and were worn in various ways, often up on one shoulder with the ties passing under the other arm and tying across the body in front.

Hat: Most images I’ve found show the flat cap – an oval flat crown with a narrow brim., trimmed around the edges and the crown seam with narrow braid. It might also have a narrow hat band or a jeweled band called a bilament, and a single feather or a bunch of feathers, held by a badge or brooch, at one side.

Belt: For noblemen – narrow leather, elaborately tooled and gilded, with additional straps and hangers to support swords and pouches.

Shoes: The same shape as Bernardo’s, with trims, embroidery, jewels, etc., or with large rosettes of ribbon. I didn’t see any images showing noblemen wearing boots, even on horseback, but a military man might have.

Ruff: The most distinctive item of Elizabethan apparel. By 1600 they were independent garments of amazing size, and cost. Most of the military men of the period, however are more conservative, and are wearing ruffs of tightly gathered, starched lace around their necks, sometimes supported with a framework to hold them up in the back. Lace at this time was made in strips no more than 3 inches wide, either bobbin (woven) or needle lace (embroidered over a netted mesh), in geometric or abstract floral patterns. Some ruffs appear to be made of plain linen with a narrow lace edge. The band that holds the lace gatherings together was worn under the shirt and doublet.

Sword: All noblemen wear swords, as a mark of their status, usually the swept hilt rapier, worn on the left hip, if the gentleman was right handed, suspended from the belt by a leather frog.

Jewels: Men holding a governmental offices, wore a “collar of office”, a heavy chain and plaque necklace with insignia. (see image below). But the Elizabethan nobles wore jewelry on just about any visible surface – carcanets (necklace), rings, bracelets, brooches, watches, and earrings, jeweled belts, buttons, points, bilaments., pomanders, fan handles, buckles, knives, sword hilts, mirrors, hat bands, hairpins, shoes, garters, and more. Enameled gold usually, or pearls or cabochon gems (if faceted, then simple table cut) or glass beads set in gold. Stylized shapes from nature, or realistic insects, animals, flowers, plants, and mythological symbols or figures. Again, military men are more conservative.

Eliz nobleman - conservative nobleman - military

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Posted in clothing, 1-1 ...

Act 1 Scene 1 costume research - Bernardo

November 18th, 2007 by ada


In some editions, Bernardo is an officer, in some he is listed as a soldier. If he is a common soldier, then he could have the same costume as Francisco. In the text both he and Marcellus defer to Horatio’s education, although Marcellus seems to be of equal rank to Horatio when they’re talking to Hamlet in a later scene. Bernardo seems to have a higher rank than Francisco, but lower than Marcellus.

Here is an approach to a middle class, lower ranking officer’s clothing. Middle class and noble costumes were similar in construction, but the middle class costumes had less expensive trim that could be sewn at home – edged slashing, bands, small amounts of embroidery. There would have been very little lace, no beads, metallic thread, or jewels.

Shirt: Similar to the peasant shirt described for Francisco, but likely to be cut narrower through the body, for comfort under the fitted doublet. It was almost always unbleached linen, with small box-pleated ruffles at neck and wrist. The ruffles might have narrow lace or blackwork embroidery, or an edging of small blanket-stitching, in black.

Nether Hose: There were two basic types of nether hose, or pants. The first illustration shows Venetian breeches - knee length pants gathered at the waist and tapered to the knee, where they buttoned or tied. The other type is known as slops or paned breeches. These are fully puffed, usually mid thigh in length, although they can be as short as crotch length or as long as below the knee. They have an inner, fitted layer, then a layer of padding, then a gathered layer of fabric, and finally a series of panes, strips of fabric stiffened, lined, and usually decorated, to form the top layer. They sometimes have a padded and decorated codpiece, a separate flap like item that covers the fly front – codpieces are going out of fashion at this time, but military uniforms in any age are slower to change with fashion.

Doublet: Vest-like garment. It can (but doesn’t have to be) of the same fabric as the nether hose. It usually has a high neckline with a standing collar, and is closely fitted. It always fastens down the front. It has tabs at the shoulders and usually a peplum below the waist. It usually has eyelet holes at the waistline or in a strip mounted under the peplum skirting, to which points (strips with metal tips) sewn to the nether hose can be tied, or trussed, to keep them up. A doublet often has a similar strip under the shoulder tabs to attach sleeves.

Sleeves were optional separate garments, and did not necessarily match the other garments. The image above shows slashed sleeves that do match the doublet. The soldier below does not have attached sleeves.

Cloaks, though almost always worn by nobles, were optional for middle class men. I didn’t find any images of middle class soldiers wearing them.

Nether stocks, or tights, were made of knitted wool or silk, or of bias cut fabric. They were shaped like a pair of tights cut in half at the crotch seam. They were held up with a drawstring around the waist, and tied to the doublet with points, along with the breeches. Sometimes they were gartered at the knees with a long strip of cloth, or knitting wrapped over the top of the knee, crossed behind, and tied in front below the knee, to keep them from bagging and call attention to a handsome leg – see image above.

Boots: If Bernardo is wearing Venetian breeches then he should be wearing shoes like bedroom slippers or men’s formal pumps, either with a wide t-strap, or laced, as in the illustration. If he’s wearing slops (wide breeches), then he can have boots – moderate heels, rounded toes, up to the length of the breeches (shorter breeches = higher boots), with a flared cuff that could be turned down.

Hat: The soldier with no armor is probably a ceremonial guard. The soldier with the helmet is ready for battle. In the Hamlet text the sentries are awaiting the arrival of Fortinbras’ army, so they may have been wearing helmets, as in the illustration below, over a linen coif. Director’s decision as to which way to go.

Belt: See illustrations for Francisco, except that Francisco’s is plain, and Bernardo might have a fancier one, without the eating knife, with a purse and possibly a strap for a sword (see soldier below), though he might have only had the partisan – same as Francisco.

Gloves: Neither of these images shows the soldiers wearing gloves, and my reading doesn’t indicate anything about middle class men wearing them. The text of the play indicates cold, but they were actually performing it in the summer. I think that’s the designer’s call - if it looks better with gloves, then yes, otherwise, no.

middle class Eliz. soldierlate Eliz/early Jacobean soldierarmor for infantry

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Posted in clothing, 1-1 ...

Act 1 Scene 1 costume research - Francisco; soldiers in general

November 18th, 2007 by ada

SL Shakespeare Hamlet – Ada Radius 2007-09-09

Act1 scene 1 soldier costumes – Francisco, Bernardo, Marcellus

The best guess is that, regardless of the setting of the play itself, the soldiers in the cast would have been dressed, more or less, as Elizabethan era soldiers. The soldiers of the sixteenth century wore civilian dress with scarves, pieces of foliage or other makeshift identification to identify their liege. Royal guards were issued a distinctive surcoat, to wear over ordinary clothing. Although Elizabethans were using muskets and other firearms, there is no mention of them in Hamlet.


In all of the Hamlet stage directions, and in his lines themselves, it’s fairly clear that Francisco is the lowest ranking soldier of the three, which means that he likely had clothing of the peasant class, with the addition of a helmet and a weapon.

Shirt: The peasant shirt was made of linen, thigh length, cut in rectangular pieces. It pulled on over the head and had a mid chest opening with a neckband, with or without a collar which tied or buttoned, and long, fairly full sleeves with cuffs. If you design a long jerkin (see below) then you can omit this – it won’t show.

Breeches: Nether hose were the trousers of the peasant class. They were most often knee length, gathered or pleated into a waistband, and tapered to gather or pleat into leg bands which tied or buttoned. They could have a plain fly front, but many still retained a triangular flap opening – the codpiece - which fastened with buttons or ties. Some nether hose were much shorter, to the upper thigh, and often worn under a long jerkin so that they barely showed, so also might be omitted on the avatar.

Jerkin: The peasant jerkin was a loose, unstructured vest, often made of leather. It was usually thigh length, and could have either a high round or a deeper V neck. It laced. tied, or buttoned up the front, or was held closed by a belt.

Sleeves were separate garments that fastened to the jerkin with ties and worn in cold weather – here shown as a knit, as are the stockings.

Cloaks, if any, were made of wool, mid calf or knee length. Gray or brown.

Hat + Helmet: Coif, or “biggin” (the hat you wore at the beginning of your life) – for peasants, a close fitting plain linen cap, covering most of the hair, with strings to tie under the chin. The coif was often worn as an under cap for another hat, in a soldier’s case, his helmet.

Belt: Peasants usually wore a sturdy leather or cloth belt, with loops for hanging tools and a pouch. Often the tongue of the belt was quite long, and hung down in front for as much two feet, depending on the size of the wearer. Men wore it at waist level, or hanging a little lower. Belt buckles should be plain, forged iron, or cast brass. Leather can be dyed brown or black, but not in colors. Knives, pouches, tools, etc., are hung from the belt. The illustration below shows a few variations - a peasant’s would not have much, or any, decoration.

Shoes for peasants - simple laced up leather buskins, flat slippers or “Mary Jane” styles with a strap. Leather should be natural, brown or blackish.

Stockings - either sewn bias cut cloth, or knit, with garters - long strips of cloth or knitting, wrapped around the leg above the knee and tied or buckled. The garters might not show under the jerkin.

Knives: Almost all peasants and lower middle class people carried eating knives. Knives for peasant use were single edged blades, similar to modern hunting knives, worn on the belt in a protective sheath with fastening. In addition, men wore daggers as defensive weapons, with double edged blades, in a belt sheath as for eating knives. – see the illustration of the belts.

Weapon: The partisan referred to in the Hamlet text is a kind of pike – there is an illustration of one in the woodblock above –a long pointy metal pole, or it might have had a tip as Sabina describes in her blog entry:

Elizabethan footsoldierEliz. beltsEliz soldierEliz soldier 2

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Posted in preview, 1-1, Scene 1, Act 1 ...

Viz Treats: Trailer and Machinima for Scene 1, SSC Company Site

October 17th, 2007 by ina

3 viz treats for you in midseason.

  1. A teaser/cinematic-ish preview (2MB preloading .swf). Voice: Kronos Kirkorian Music by Heath Elvehjem.
  2. Storyboard (25 MB .mov Quicktime): what the “rough cut” has metamorphosed into.
    Waiting for Enniv to remaster the sound for this. Scrolling Credits, sans Heath Elvehjem who sent in his credits/machinima music too late to make the scroll.
  3. And, it (hopefully) looks alltogether @
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Posted in globe ...

SL Globe Theatre Construction: Published References

October 17th, 2007 by ina

An informal bibliography

  • Peter Thomson. Shakespeare’s Theatre. 1992
  • T.J. King. Casting Shakespeare’s plays : London actors and their roles, 1590-1642. 1992
  • John Orrell. The quest for Shakespeare’s Globe. 1983
  • Andrew Gurr with John Orrell. Rebuilding Shakespeare’s Globe. 1989
  • Shakespeare’s Theatre, written and illustrated by C. Walter Hodges
  • C. Walter Hodges. Enter the whole army : a pictorial study of Shakespearean staging, 1576-1616. 2004
  • C. Walter Hodges (ed). Shakespeare’s Second Globe; the missing monument
  • Shakespeare & the players. Written and illustrated by C. Walter Hodges
  • The Third Globe : Symposium for the Reconstruction of the Globe Playhouse
  • The Globe Playhouse: its design and equipment
  • New issues in the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Theatre
  • Andrew Gurr and Mariko Ichikawa. Staging in Shakespeare’s Theatres
  • Arthur F. Kinney. Shakespeare by stages : an historical introduction
  • Irwin Smith. Shakespeare’s Globe Playhouse; a modern reconstruction in text and scale drawings
  • C. Walter Hodges. The Globe restored: a study of the Elizabethan theater. 1968
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Posted in 1-1, Scene 1 ...


October 2nd, 2007 by ina

Rough cut of machinima.

Since the live version will not have lip-syncing, a dynamic camera will be used to key the user’s cam to the speakers.  In a scene with multiple faces, the person speaking would have facial light turned on.

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Posted in clothing, skins, props, 1-1, Scene 1, Act 1 ...

The 5 Guys in Scene 1

September 28th, 2007 by ina

Long time no post.

Well, when Ada told me that we should just go with June’s anime-style, I realized that there wasn’t enough time for the machinima for custom-made-everything (and that she wouldn’t be hurt if I executive-veto’ed her exact clothing suggestions).

With a liberal interpretation of history, and with more of an eye towards prettiness and cinematic efficiency, the outfits on left became inevitable. (Click to enlarge each pic.)

Poster: Francisco
Poster: Barnardo
Poster: Marcellus
Poster: Horatio
  • Francisco is basically this peasant boy, who’s been called on guard before proper training. He has daggers and farmer’s weapons in his belt, but has not yet been issued as sword. Dark shadows beneath his eyes; many nights of sleeplessness. Pale cold-ridden skin. He’s been standing in the cold for ages, as the other men are too scared to hang. He’s bitter cold and sick at heart… and hangs onto a fiery baton for light, heat, and company until his rival guard Barnardo arrives.
  • Barnardo is a higher ranked guard, and has actually been issued palace armor and an official’s cape. He has a fair expression on his wind-burnt face, and honest blue eyes. He fears seeing the ghost again, and when the wind blows as he ascends the stairs to the watch, yells out “who’s there…” and, to his relief, finds Francisco instead of a more ethereal man.
  • Although unshaven, Marcellus is a lace-sporting courtier and a high-ranked guard. There’s mirth on his face, wisdom in his eyes and years. He brings Horatio, the scholar, who does not believe in what Barnardo and he had seen here the past nights.
  • Horatio is a HAWT scholar who’d just been brought in my Marcellus, and still has his hat and riding cape on! :-D
  • The Ghost is… the spirit of Hamlet’s dead father!

(Hmmm and if June were given free reign to create clothing, everything would all look BDSM-ish… Ina’s a prude, so her reign would tend to look as shown! ^.~ Well, other than making Horatio look like a lothario…)

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Posted in skins, clothing, 1-1, Act 1 ...

Character: Francisco

September 23rd, 2007 by ina

Some visual interpretations of Francisco’s character.

Francisco as a peasant boy who can’t afford better garb:
Francisco Peasant

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Posted in Uncategorized ...

Globe place and time

September 4th, 2007 by ada

Ina’s comment in a recent email to me helped me get into a better focus:

“the idea for the historic authenticity: you could walk into the Globe as if you’re walking back to Shakespeare’s era”

and that got the juices going.

So. It’s somewhere around 1602, just outside London, along the river, in a part of town that’s also outside the strictest of government supervision - the equivalent of M, rather than PG. It’s the middle of the day, in summer, maybe raining a little. Because it’s England. Maybe foggy, maybe a little more fog toward sunset. The streets are filthy, with beggars, drunks and rats, pigs and dead bodies might not arouse much comment. Taverns, cock-fighting, bear baiting, bawdy houses and streetwalkers.

The theater is fairly new, though made of older lumber, partly open air, with no lighting other than daylight. The stage is simple, about 5 feet off the ground, with trap doors and ladders, and an upper ledge to invoke the idea of an upper room, a balcony, or a castle palisade. Sets consist of props that actors can carry onstage. Costumes are lavish. What do we think was in the costume trunk?

We, the audience, are a mixed bunch. The wealthier among us are as gorgeously dressed as we can afford, and we are destined for the covered balcony seats. Artisans and workers who can afford a groundling ticket head for the standing area just in front of the stage, fortified with ripe objects to throw at actors who displease us. There are food and drink vendors both outside and in, and gambling and canoodling in the darker corners of the theater. We have survived the last outbreak of the plague, we may not survive the next. The powers-that-be have not yet censored this theater, but we know they will eventually. We are ready to party.



Posted in Uncategorized ...

Research Sources

September 4th, 2007 by ada

Farnham, William, ed. The Pelican Shakespeare: William Shakespeare: Hamlet Prince of Denmark. London, Penguin Books, 1957. Essays by Alfred Harbage and William Farnham, with notes on the text, the text itself, and an appendix that lists departures from the text of the 1604-1605 Quarto

Spencer, T.J.B., ed., with an introduction by Anne Barton. William Shakespeare: Hamlet. London, Penguin Books, 1980. Barton’s essay on historical sources and the revenge motif, the text itself, an extensive commentary that includes Quarto 1, Quarto 2, the first Folio, and Biblical cites from the Bishop’s Bible 1568, and an Account of the Text that shows how the editor put it all together.

Asimov, Isaac. Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare, Vol. 1 % 2. New York, Random House, 1970. Asimov divides the plays into four sections for discussion - the Greek, Roman, Italian, and English plays, and walks us through each play with much historical and cultural insight.

Staunton, Howard, ed. The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works, annotated. New York, Crown Publishers, 1983. Nice annotations of which words come from which Quarto or Folio.

Wells, Stanley, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies, Cambridge University Press, 1986 -this one has some contemporary lists of costumes

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