Designing Shakespeare

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Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 21

“And I hope here is a play fitted.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1.2.63)

There's an old Broadway saying (sometimes attributed to Richard Rodgers) that "No one ever walked out of a theater humming the scenery." Nevertheless, costume and scenery designers can be vital to the success of a play.

In this episode of the Shakespeare Unlimited series, Steve Martin talks with Denise Walen about the sweeping changes in costumes, scenery, and other staging choices in the 400 years since Shakespeare's time.

From elaborate settings and carefully researched costumes that were meant to educate audiences, to modernist stripped-down sets or fanciful reimaginings, Shakespeare productions have long responded to the theater choices of their day. As for the future, Walen is sure: whatever changes lie ahead, Shakespeare's plays will still take the stage.

Denise Walen is an associate professor in the Department of Drama at Vassar College. She was the curator of Here Is a Play Fitted, a Folger Shakespeare Library exhibition.

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From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. © February 25, 2015. Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved.

Written and produced for the Folger Shakespeare Library by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. Edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington.

Steve Martin is the former program director of WAMU public radio in Washington, DC.

 

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Want more? Browse our full list of Shakespeare Unlimited episodes. Listen on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, and NPR One.