A Shakespeare Halloween

All you need is a sheet and a crown and voilà, you’re the Ghost of Hamlet’s father! Photo by Brenda Sparks

The end of October is upon us! And for many of us, this means Halloween. While some of you have had your costume planned for weeks or even months, there are others out there (like some of our staff) who are just now realizing that Halloween is tomorrow(!) and are scrambling to orchestrate the perfect costume. It’s at times like these, we like to turn to our old friend William Shakespeare for some last-minute costume inspiration. From Athenian nobles to fairies to Italian lovers, Shakespeare has someone for everybody. And inspiration for many can be found in your own closet or pieced together from the costumes of years past. You don’t need to go full-on Elizabethan to build a Shakespeare-inspired costume, but do make sure to bring the theatrics. Your fellow party-goers will approve.

Here are just a few ideas for a great Shakespeare-inspired Halloween.

Photo by Rick Malkin.

Notice the stab wounds. Photo by Rick Malkin

The Ghost of Julius Caesar

You could easily dress up as Julius Caesar, just throw on a sheet-as-toga and a crown and you’re good to go! But why dress up as Julius Caesar when you could be the ghost of Julius Caesar? This is for Halloween after all! So grab your toga and get to work with scissors and the red dye. You’ll need plenty of knife wounds and lots and lots of blood.

The Ghost of Hamlet’s Father

Speaking of ghosts, the ghost of Hamlet’s father is also an excellent option. No one really knows what he looks like, so feel free to use your imagination. If you’re pressed for time or artistic abilities, this one can easily be the easiest solution. Simply throw a sheet over your head ala Charlie Brown in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and grab a crown or pin a sign on your front declaring you are indeed the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father.

Without the skull, he is simply Peter Vann. With the skull, Hamlet.

Without the skull, he is simply Peter Vann. With the skull, Hamlet.

Hamlet

And while we’re thinking about Hamlet, what says Halloween more than a guy carrying around (and talking to) a skull? Like being the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father, this one is fairly easy. You can, of course, go for a classical Elizabethan look, or you can just wear all black and walk around with a skull. Quoting “to be or not to be” or occasionally exclaiming “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well” is highly encouraged.

Ophelia

All you really need to pull off Ophelia is a long flowy gown and a garland of flowers in your hair. Easy enough. If you want to take your costume to the next, Halloween-inspired level, remember that she did drown in the middle of the play. Go for pale makeup with hints of blue, and using a slightly blue lipstick will give you that ephemeral look.

Lady Macbeth

Is there really any Shakespeare play more full of scary characters than Macbeth? It’s full of murderers, ghosts and witches, and Lady Macbeth. Don’t own anything Scottish/Medieval/Renaissance-y? Go as a sleepwalking Lady Macbeth, covered in blood. All you need is a white nightgown, a dagger and a lot of red dye. Don’t forget to obsessively rub your hands together while repeating, “Out damned spot! out, I say!”

Matching white veils and leotards turned three Nashville Ballet dancers into the weird sisters in Macbeth. Photo by Rick Malkin.

Matching white veils and leotards turned three Nashville Ballet dancers into the weird sisters in Macbeth. Photo by Rick Malkin.

The Three Witches

This one works best with a group of three. You can make the witches wear anything you want: long, flowy black capes with hoods, traditional pointy hats, just make sure that your outfits coordinate and you travel everywhere as a group reciting “double, double, toil and trouble.”

Viola/Cesario or Rosalind/Ganymede 

Taking a note from this past summer’s production of As You Like It and our upcoming production of Twelfth Night, think Rosalind/Ganymede or Viola/Cesario. If you’re a girl, it’s always fun to dress like a boy. If you’re a boy, dressing up as a girl dressed up as a boy is even more fun. Bonus points if you flirt shamelessly with party-goers of both sexes.

An apron and a dagger instantly transform Brad Brown into Titus, cook extraordinaire.

An apron and a dagger instantly transform Brad Brown into Titus Andronicus, cook extraordinaire.

Titus Andronicus

While Macbeth may be Shakespeare’s scariest play, we think Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare’s goriest. Perfect for Halloween, so why not just go completely over the top with it? Put on a chef’s hat and bloody apron, carry a cleaver and a big stew pot. Throw a few prop body parts in it while you’re at it.

Romeo and Juliet

Speaking of couple’s costumes, nothing says “Halloween,” like a pair of famous dead lovers. Make sure that your Romeo looks like he died of poison – some foam around the mouth or an unnatural shade of green, and have your Juliet wear a bloody dagger wound with pride.

The Fairy Ladies: Margaret Horne, Camille Thompson,McKenna Harrington, Ali Valentine

The Fairy Ladies: Margaret Horne, Camille Thompson,McKenna Harrington, Ali Valentine

Titania and Oberon 

Fairies are fun and  easy to do. Glitter, painted faces, a fanciful dress  and, voilà, your costume is ready.

These are just a few options out of the many we could have chosen. Grab a staff and a long flowy robe and instead of Gandalf, you are Prospero from The Tempest. Add a plastic (we hope) snake to your toga and you’re Cleopatra. Own a army/navy uniform? You’re Benedict from Much Ado About Nothing. The options are endless! Happy costuming!

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One Response to A Shakespeare Halloween

  1. Brad Brown says:

    Don’t forget the stump…you need a stump for Titus. Otherwise, authenticity goes out the windee…don’tcha know.

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