Plays & Poems Story

Designing Verona: Our 2009 Romeo and Juliet

  Delve backstage into our Archive & Collections with the Wardrobe Notes for our 2009 production of Romeo and Juliet 

4 minute read

Have you ever wondered what goes into making the magic of a production at the Globe? Our incredible Archive & Collections document the many of the hidden processes that go into the making of our plays, from rehearsals and costume fittings to the cues for the stage manager during the performance.

A young woman watches from a balcony as a young man clutches his hands to his chest, besotted.

Our Young Hearts season was about the exuberance and the exhilaration of young hearts bursting out of themselves. Photographer: John Haynes.

The free stream of our 2009 Romeo and Juliet, gives us the opportunity to go backstage and look at the archive collections for this particular play. A key feature of archives is that they reveal the past as it is happening. They document ideas as they are being formulated, moments of hesitation and change, things that might have happened as well as decisions. So when we look at archives, we reactivate the present of the past and collapse the distance between then and now. We can witness the event, through these archival traces, in our own personal performance with history.

Romeo and Juliet was the opening play of the season ‘Young Hearts’ which our former Artistic Director, Dominic Dromgoole envisioned was “about the exuberance and the exhilaration of young hearts bursting out of themselves”. Dromgoole was also the Director of Romeo and Juliet and cast the leading roles of the Cupid Company with very young actors. Adetomiwa Edun played Romeo and Ellie Kendrick played Juliet, who at 18 looked very convincing as the 13 year-old Juliet.

 

One aspect of the play concerns the detailed and rigorous work that goes into making the costumes. This is documented in our series of ‘Wardrobe Notes’, which are the working documents of our Wardrobe Department. They are used as the main reference point for the construction of costumes and then, how they are used on stage.

Romeo and Juliet was designed by Simon Daw. He produced illustrations of each of the characters costumes in consultation with the Director to create the look and feel of the production. Copies of Simon Daw’s original drawings were then put into the ‘Wardrobe Notes’ and the maker’s worked from these drawings.

A costume sketch for Juliet, with a blue corset dress.
A costume sketch for Juliet with a high necked blue corset dress.

 

This production used Renaissance style clothing and employed colour coded symbolism to represent the warring families. The Capulet’s are dressed in red and the Montague’s in green or blue. The only exception is the star-crossed lovers who wore a combination of the families’ colours. At the masked ball, Romeo and Juliet wear a mixture of red and blue garments, dominated by the colour of their family but by the end Juliet is wearing a green dress with red trimming and Romeo a rusty brown doublet and hose.

A man places a rapier against the throat of another man, whilst a group of people look on.
A young man wearing blue doublet and hose, encounters a young woman wearing a red corset dress.
A young man holds a vial of poison over the body of a young woman.

This production used Renaissance style clothing and employed colour coded symbolism to represent the warring families. The Capulet’s are dressed in red and the Montague’s in green or blue. Photographer: John Haynes.

 

The Wardrobe Notes detail all the different fabrics used to make a costume. In these pages you get an indication of which part of the costume the fabric is for, the supplier, the length of material required and a sample fabric swatch. These are constantly referred to in the process of cutting and making and the Wardrobe Notes also include fitting photos and measurements of all the actors, for whom the costumes are generally tailor-made. Minor characters might sometimes wear costume from our huge stock.

The Wardrobe Notes also include the ‘Costume Plots’, here called the ‘Costume List’. These are detailed cues, used by the dressers, to indicate what each character should be wearing in each scene. This page shows part of the ‘Costume Plot’ for Juliet and indicates the many times her costumes is changed during the play to reinforce the symbolic use of colour to represent how Romeo and Juliet’s overcame the factional politics of their families.

A sheet a paper detailing the costume list for a scene in Romeo and Juliet with fabric swatches.
A sheet a paper detailing the costume list for the character of Juliet.

 

This is only one element of the backstage processes that go into constructing the play. When we re-open, our collections in the  Library & Archive at the Globe is accessible to all. Many of our performance related collections have been digitized and are available by subscription (usually via University libraries) through Adam Matthew.

FINIS.

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