Shakespeare 400

Exhibition in TheGallery

02 November – 15 December 2016

Curated by Will Hargreaves

Live Project Space, North Building

A collaboration with BA (Hons) Costume Performance Design, BA (Hons) Acting, BA (Hons) Film Production and BA (Hons) Visual Communication.

A number of AUB students have worked together to re-imagine DC Comic superheroes as Shakespearean characters, the project featured many well-known heroes and villains such as Batman and Catwoman as well as some of the more obscure DC characters, all in full Jacobean costume complete with ruffs, patterned silks and ornate cuffs.

This project commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616 and also coincides with the release of two feature DC movies – Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad in 2016.

A set of forty-four male and female costumes were designed by AUB lecturers Will Hargreaves and Bunny Winter and made by the second year costume interpretation students under the guidance of tutors Mandy Barrington and Katerina Lawton.

The project provided the opportunity for the students to create the silhouettes and learn the construction techniques of the first part of the 17th century.  Each design involved making either a doublet or bodice and skirt or breeches but also fused the Jacobean period costume with iconic superhero colours and motifs.

Fabrics appropriate to the period such as silks, wools, linens and leather were sourced from London and primary research was carried out at the V&A’s archive where students were able to access original 17th Century garments. Second year design students assisted the interpreters by making Jacobean versions of the masks, hats, and props for the superheroes and villains.

In an excellent example of cross course collaboration, these images were captured by AUB Photography alumnus, Andy Bate, who created a dark, rain-drenched world for the characters, played by second year students from the BA (Hons) Acting course. Students and alumni from the BA (Hons) Visual Communication course integrated famous Shakespeare quotes with the characters to create these arresting posters.  The project was executed with the guidance of Mark Sephton of creative agency, Creative Forager.

During the photoshoot, a crew of BA (Hons) Film Production students, under the direction of cinematography student Jean Dakar, also made a short film.  Working to a storyboard created by Will Hargreaves, this was shot in just one day.  The lines come from Prospero’s melancholy and existential speech in Shakespeare’s last play The Tempest:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

Meet the Curator: Will Hargreaves

Will Hargreaves is a Senior Lecturer and the scenography specialism leader for BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design at AUB.

Will’s background is in theatre design, he has created set and costume designs for classic texts, new writing, opera, musicals, and pantomimes at theatres throughout the UK and in London’s West End.

His most recent work includes designs for the plays This Flesh is Mine and When Nobody Returns by Brian Wolland, based on Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey respectively. These were site specific co-productions between Border Crossings and the Palestinian Theatre company Ashtar, with the plays performed in the Acklam Village theatre space at Portobello Road as part of the Nour Festival of Middle Eastern Arts and Culture in Oct/Nov 2016.


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