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Shakespeare & Beyond

7 ideas for a Shakespeare-themed Halloween costume

Malvolio from Twelfth Night
Malvolio from Twelfth Night

We’ve got seven great ideas for Shakespeare-themed Halloween costumes.

1. The Gravedigger from Hamlet

Gravedigger's Tale

Louis Butelli as the Gravedigger in The Gravedigger’s Tale. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Yes, you could go as Hamlet himself and carry a skull around all night. Or you could go as the Gravedigger and carry a shovel around all night. The choice is clear.

2. Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Holly Twyford as Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Folger Theatre, 2016. Photo by Teresa Wood.

This Halloween costume even has an election-year twist going for it.

3. Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew

Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew

Cody Nickell as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. Folger Theatre, 2012. Photo by Jeff Malet.

This costume is too outrageous not to include. Just throw together a bunch of garish fabrics and feathers, and you’re set! Or, if you’d prefer to be faithful to the play:

Why, Petruchio is coming in a new hat and
an old jerkin, a pair of old breeches thrice turned,
a pair of boots that have been candle-cases, one
buckled, another laced; an old rusty sword ta’en
out of the town armory, with a broken hilt, and
chapeless; with two broken points; his horse
hipped, with an old mothy saddle and stirrups of no
kindred, besides possessed with the glanders and
like to mose in the chine, troubled with the lampass,
infected with the fashions, full of windgalls,
sped with spavins, rayed with the yellows, past cure
of the fives, stark spoiled with the staggers, begnawn
with the bots, swayed in the back and shoulder-shotten,
near-legged before, and with a half-checked
bit and a headstall of sheep’s leather,
which, being restrained to keep him from stumbling,
hath been often burst, and now repaired with
knots; one girth six times pieced, and a woman’s
crupper of velour, which hath two letters for her
name fairly set down in studs, and here and there
pieced with packthread.

4. Malvolio from Twelfth Night

Malvolio from Twelfth Night

Richard Sheridan Willis as Malvolio from Twelfth Night. Folger Theatre, 2013. Photo by Teresa Wood.

If that last costume wasn’t attention-getting enough for you, this one should do it. “I will be strange, stout, in yellow stockings, and cross-gartered…”

5. The Soothsayer from Julius Caesar

The Soothsayer from Julius Caesar

Nafeesa Monroe as the Soothsayer from Julius Caesar. Folger Theatre, 2014. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Perfectly spooky. Go around muttering, “Beware the ides of March.”

6. One of the witches from Macbeth

Macbeth's Weird Sisters are perfect for Halloween

The Weird Sisters (Andrew Zox, Cleo House, Jr., and Eric Hissom) in Macbeth at Folger Theatre, 2008. Photo by Carol Pratt.

I mean, come on. We couldn’t not include this. Classic!

7. Diana from Pericles

Diana from Pericles

Emily Serdahl as Diana from Pericles. Folger Theatre, 2015. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Get your goddess on. Diana appears to Pericles in a vision to reunite him with his family.


If you’re looking for an easy costume, crown yourself! There’s a boatload of kings to choose from if royalty is your thing.

For sheer cleverness, we’ve found Good Tickle Brain to be an excellent source for costume ideas.

If you actually are throwing a Shakespearean Halloween party (we know you’re out there), this Macbeth-inspired cocktail recipe for “The Weird Sisters’ Blood and Hand Punch” is about as strange as it gets.

The drink is from Shakespeare, Not Stirred, a book of Shakespeare-inspired cocktail recipes by two English professors. You can hear an interview with them on our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast.


Um… Caliban.

Michael Streeter — October 18, 2016