The costume concept for a tourable show needs to be clever, particularly for this show. For this show I have been given 5 actors and a stage manager to play 9 characters plus act as a collective cast. This means each actor will have to take on more than one character, and so more than one costume.

Due to the fact that the majority of the play Red Red Shoes is narrated by the ‘cast’ I am in need of a over all costume that can act as a blank canvas for the actors. To this canvas I will then add small items of costume that allow them to become the more major characters.

For my basic costume I initially contemplated plain ‘blacks’, but soon decided this would be too boring, too amateur for what I wanted to achieve. So this lead me to consider running with the medical theme, and putting them all in a pair of grey scrubs.

For each cast member to become their characters, they will add simple items to their scrubs. The idea is that Franvera is telling her story to a doctor in a medical facility. For this reason I see all the characters apart from the doctor as figments of Franvera’s imagination. Each cast member will pick up items from Franvera’s room to become their character. Franvera’s room will begin a little messy with a lot in it, but by the end of the play it will be very bare, it will become a medical room.




My idea for franvera’s costume design revolves around the theme of having your life wrapped away from you that features in the play. She begins in a wrap coat which, during the show, she will remove to reveal a cable knit jumper over a skirt. This is then removed to reveal a hospital gown. She will wear red pointe shoes as her ‘Red Red Shoes’. I chose ballet as the form of dance because I think it is the most recognisable form of dance within a young community.



‘old soldier with a long wooden coat full of holes, as if he had been shot 100 times but never killed. He has a beard that is so red it glows in the darkness.’

This quote has influenced my vision of Red Beard a lot. I would like him to be dressed in a old fashioned woolen coat ridden with holes. Thinking back to the idea of the characters finding their costumes in Franvera’s bedroom; His coat will also double as her school bag somehow, and to create a red beard he will find a chunky red scarf.

Red Beard.jpg


It is mentioned in the play that the old lady is wearing a black shawl. This lead me to consider putting her into a wooden poncho, I think that this is a more modern version of the shawl. The poncho would be found on Franvera’s bed and will double as her blanket.



The mother will also be using the poncho/ blanket as her costume. she will somehow wind it up and use it as a head scarf. This is due to the description of the guests at the party at the beginning of the play. The women are described to be wearing ‘black headscarves’.



The father is a football coach at the local school. I want him to be dressed in a training bib with a whistle around his neck. This is because I think these are objects that you might find in a little girls room, especially if her Dad is a coach.



The soldier will pick up the lampshade to form a helmet, and also re use the vest as a arm cuff.



I want Anna to be dressed in a little pinafore that she finds in Franvera’s drawers. I think that having her in a school uniform helps again to demonstrate the normality of both characters lives before the events unfold. It is also an item of clothing that Franvera would own.





After a long summer we are finally back to continue the course at Trent. This year we have a lost going on including the idea of going on a placement, alongside multiple design projects. This term we have been asked to consider children’s plays and how design can help to engage the children with the content.

The two specific plays that we are looking at are; ‘Red Red Shoes’ by Charles Way, and ‘The Ash Girl’ by Timberlake Wertenbaker. The Idea being that we either create a speculative design scheme for either of the plays, or devise and perform a short version of Red Red shoes to local school children.

Red Red Shoes:

This play is a take on ‘The Red Shoes’ by Hans Christian Anderson. The play tells a story of a young girl named Franvera, who lives to dance. On her birthday she is given a pair of red dancing shoes to aid her dream of dancing for her country. she is unaware of the turmoil that is to unfold around her. Her village is to be ransacked and anyone who was not born in the country was to be forced out. The women, children and elderly marched across the border as the men where killed within. Franvera escapes, but is left by her mother who goes back after her father. She crosses the border with other townsfolk to face more issues.

It is important to note that the play is designed to be unfolding within Franveras mind. It is disjointed and imaginitive.

The story is one of ethnic cleansing and refugees that occur so much in our society, however Way has managed to turn it into a fairy tale; arguably making it more accessible to a younger audience.

The Ash Girl:

This play is based around the famous fairytale; ‘Cinderella. Ash Girl is the main character who lives with her step mother and two step sisters. Unlike the tale of ‘Cinderella’ Ash Girl’s step mother is not a nasty one, she does not make Ash Girl stay home from the ball or spend all her time cleaning; Ash Girl decides to do this for herself.

Within this story The Prince is Indian, and has just moved to this cold foreign land to escape the turmoil of his own. The Princes mother then holds a ball to find Prince Amir a wife, and route him to this new country. The story unfolds much like Cinderella with Ash Girls step family attending, and the fairy paying a visit. Ash Girl attends and dances, leaves her shoe etc. Much like the Grimms tale the Step Mother mutilates her daughters feet to make them fit the shoe. Amir sees through this, finds Ash Girl and the story finishes with them together.

One of the main differences between ‘Ash Girl’ and ‘Cinderella’ is that Ash Girl is more about self discovery. The fairy in the mirror cannot help Ash Girl without her defeating sadness and believing that she is pretty etc. Timberlake has also incorporated the idea of the 7 deadly sins into the play, through the parts of woodland animals, this explores the idea that we all have demons that we need to defeat in order to be happy and grounded.


Our brief was to create a photoshopped story board for at least 5 scenes of the play. This allowed us to show how our design will be used in a more interesting way. I liked playing around on photoshop to create these, I think it made it easier to give each scene its individual atmosphere.

Act 1 Scene 1:

This scene is located on the Gun Terrace of the Castle of Elinsore. In this scene Marcellus and Bernardo are guarding the castle, it is where they see the ghost for the first time.


Act 1 Scene 2:

This scene is set in the main court. Claudius makes a speech to his subjects about the death of his brother and his recent marriage to his brothers Widow.


The graffiti that I have added as part of the design is intended to be done by projection mapping. Having the projection allows me to change the graffiti in different scenes so as to give a feel of another location.

The down stage graffiti under the platform is intended to show Claudius’ takeover and his current power. The head is intended to represent Hamlet Sr, and the fact that ‘Claudius’ has been graffitied over the top is meant to show how he caused the death of his own brother.

Act 1 Scene 5:

This scene is located once again on the Gun Terrace. It is the scene where Hamlet interacts with the ghost of his father.

ACT 1 SCENE 5.jpg

My idea is that the graffitied head itself is the ghost and that it can be illuminated when it interacts. I guess the graffitied face is there constantly, it almost seems like an all seeing eye and serves as a reminder of the betrayal that has occurred.

Gertrudes Quarters:

This scene, set in Gertrude’s Quarters, is where Gertrude meets with hamlet to confront him. Polonius has concealed himself in the room so he can watch over and make sure she was safe. Hamlet stabs Polonius in the hope that he was Claudius.


Again, the graffiti here is meant to help to install the idea of a bedroom. I have tried to incorporate lamp shades into the graffiti for this purpose. I have added a polythene curtain to the platform which becomes an area where Polonius can conceal himself.

The Players Scene:

In this scene Hamlet gets a group of actors to perform a play he has adapted that tells the story of how Claudius killed his own brother.


Here the graffiti that I have designed is intended to be sound waves, a modern idea for a play. I like the idea of the players using the sloped area of the set as a kind of platform. The players are intended to be the youths of the gang; easily impressionable and longing to impress both Claudius and Hamlet.

The Graveyard:

In this scene the funeral of Ophelia takes place in a cemetery.


For the graffiti in this scene I have drawn some gravestones, and some almost blood looking drips. I also came up with the thought of turning it into a memorial service rather than a funeral. I was thinking about how to turn the space I have into a grave yard, and I think it would be better to not take the idea of a funeral so literally, and alter that to fit in.



After coming up with my design, my next task was to create a to scale 3D model of it. I really enjoyed doing this, it allowed me to experiment a bit more and alter the design when needed.

I had a few issues when creating the model box. I really had to consider the composition of the design to work out if the actors would have enough entrances and exits into the space.

Progression of model box:

-Initial progression of concrete structure.

I used various layers of different tones of grey.

– The next step with my model was to construct the platform and the stair case that went with it. I found this quite challenging as I wanted to make sure I had considered every detail, in order to make it as realistic as possible. Another thing I needed to add was a hand rail. It took me a long time to work out how to do this, but in the end I just had to opt for cutting it out of card.

Final image:



Due to the fact our speculative designs for Hamlet are intended for the Nottingham Playhouse, I decided to look for an idea that would relate more to the location. I decided to look into gang culture, and the relevance of it here in Nottingham. After all Nottingham’s nickname is shottingham.

My initial research brought to light the Gunn brothers. They are to brothers that ran a cartel called the ‘Bestwood Cartel’. The story of the Gunn brothers is interesting, they were clever, they would give money to the locals etc to keep them on their side. They employed people to go into the police force on their behalf so they could avoid jail time. Colin Gunn notoriously worked with the police for self serving reasons; for example ratting out his enemies.

My set designs revolve around the idea of considering a place that the gang/ cartel would lurk. A sort of ‘patch’. I liked the idea of creating a sort of underworld theme through my set. The intention is to keep the set very naturalistic and applicable to Nottingham.

The first image to inspire me structurally, was this image of an underpass. I liked the levels that have been formed and the general shape. The idea of the graffiti on the upstage wall and then the strong angles formed by the rest of the concrete. I feel this image is really able to show the atmosphere I intend to create.

After looking at this particular image, I intend to venture out into Nottingham itself in order to seek out areas that exist here like this one. That way I can design something with more resonance to the  Gunn Brothers and Nottingham itself.


Breaking the Space is a mini project that we have been given to help us get into our model boxes. This project is designed to force us to not be too precious with design, and to get to grips with the size of the Nottingham Playhouse stage.

We were asked to bring in a few objects from home, or ones we had found out and about. We were then asked to put these into the model box and to try to create conceptual responses to key moments in Hamlet with them.

We have been given 5 key moments as starting points: Elinsore Castle, Gun Terrace, Graveyard, Gertrude’s Chamber, Ophelia’s madness.

Initially I was thinking about Ophelia’s madness whilst playing around with ivy and twigs in the space. I figured she was a more natural character, one with a lot of innocence driven mad by her fathers passing. She drowns herself at the end of her story, this got me thinking about bringing some sort of luming presence into the model box. I found a blue pillow case that I played around with for this. I found I could use the pillow case in various different ways to create different places and effects. It helped me to create the room at Elinsore by falling, hinting at a wall. This created a more claustrophobic feel in the set, this could be argued to mirror how Hamlet feels in his own life.


Photoshop is another program that is important to understand within the theatre design proffession. Photoshop can be used to produce story boards, costume designs etc. It can produce drawings which depict the lighting and so are good drawings to give to directors/ lighting designers etc.

Our first task, to get to grips with photoshop, was to edit 6 photos of a skull using different effects. We had to play with brightness and contrast, levels, vibrancy, B&W, hue and saturation and also to post an original photo. We were also asked to add text to the photos, so we could experiment with that too.

Hamlet Skull

The next task we were given was to create a costume design. We were asked to cut out a full length figure using the quick selection and magic wand tools. This was a difficult thing to do, but a useful tool to use. The costume design on photoshop allows for a more precise design, and allows you to use lighting.

Person in Spotlight


The first task that we got after coming back from easter was to create a video that depicts the key characteristics of one of the 9 main characters. We were split into small groups to complete this task. The group that I was put into were given Horatio as our character.


Loyalty, strength, swordsmanship, moral, quiet.

Above I have listed the main characteristics we decided applied to Horatio. We also wanted to play on the fact that Shakespeare hints at the questionable side of his sexuality. We decided to create a soliloquy written about his love for hamlet that also exposes his key qualities.

The soliloquy:

Hamlet offers his arm to Ophelia, which she takes with a sly smile. He whispers sweetly in her ear and the two proceed to walk towards the gardens of the estate. All the while Horatio watches from the gun terrace, somber and pensive. Pacing back and forth he deliberates to himself the differences between his own relationship with Hamlet, and that of Ophelia’s.


“Does me think he holds her more dearly than I?

Her petal like hands held so delicately within his palm,

this master swordsman turned gentle creature?

My sorrow clashes with gratitude,

For she was able to tame his wilds

And rid him of his anguished heart.


How was it this mouse was able to free the lion;

Caged for so long after the king’s demise?

It harrows me with fear and wonder.

This delicate youth may prove to be to him what I cannot.

Her nature though wistful,

Bears the strength of the Mother all encompassing.

And so shall she be better matched than I?

But she lacks the sword that fits his sheath.


Horatio gazes towards the couple as Hamlet places his hand on the small of Ophelia’s back. She leans into his breast, he plants a feathered kiss onto her flushed cheek.


Rumors from weary soldiers

Tell the tale of a resurrected soul.

Clad in the king’s armour

I pray the mischievous mind of thine Hamlet

Bid this gossip to rest.

I beg him to relinquish these dark thoughts of revenge,

For it will be his ruin,

My ruin also.


I shall confront this demon myself,

If nothing but to save Hamlet’s tortured mind.

To bear the brute of hell is a small price

To save Denmark’s future king.


Thine unquestionable loyalty remains with Hamlet;

Thy fruit forbidden.

Eve was tempted by deceiving apples,

Yet to stay true to thine prince

I must remain unpeeled.

Revenge could cause his core to rot,

And send him to hells gates.

Although this sour act is ungodly,

I am bound to him who commits it.”


The day grows old, Hamlet bids Ophelia good night. He plants a sweet kiss upon her lips, before she pulls away and skips toward the castle. Hamlet remains a while, his hair caught in the wind, a smirk claims his face before he follows her to the castle’s front entrance. Horatio remains thoughtful before sighing, releasing his essence into the breeze and wandering along the gun terrace enering the prince’s castle through the rear.



My first year at uni will be concluded by the project of ‘Hamlet’. For this project we have been asked to create a full set of costume designs for the 9 main characters, and a set design for the entirety of the show. The designs have to be relatable to the modern society. We have been asked to apply the main themes and issues into every day modern life, or look at the script conceptually and create something timeless.

Hamlet, as with any shakespeare play, is over flowing with themes and ideas that can be easily relatable to modern life; of course they are probably more exaggerated. The family life within the play is messed up, we are shown incestuous family units, and more conventional ones. This, as an example, can be applied to modern day life; looking at divorce within modern families and how this effects the children etc. There are a lot more themes, like this one, to experiment with.

I love the idea of striping the play down to the themes rather than playing on the literal ideas of monarchy and castles etc. I would like to explore this idea further and research what has already been done.


I am really proud of the set that we have created. We have spent 2 weeks solidly building painting, and it has payed off. The set that we have created looks professional, and when inhabited with a person in character, it portrays a narrative.

This project has taught me a lot about the world of theatre design and construction. It has shown me that there is a lot more to consider when designing for shows. I need to be more  thorough with my design process; for example I need to consider every finish and every join, all the small details are so important.


The group with our set: