Following on from my previous post I made last I have visited a few locations in Nottingham for inspiration for my concept.

The first place that I went to was the Nottingham Contemporary museum. Here i took photos under the bridge bellow, and of the stairs etc. I found this location interesting because of the different levels and the different materials that were there. I got some interesting photos that will definitely aid my design process.

I also visited a recently abandoned shopping strip in Lenton called Church Square.  It is a small strip of shops that are no longer in use due to redevelopment. The shops have only recently been vacated, with last cafe closing as late as April this year. I really liked the structural layout of the strip. I especially liked the colour of the metal stairs, this is definitely something I will take forward into my design; Blue industrial stairs.


Another key photo that I have taken for this project is one of my flat mate. I took this photo on a whim as I liked the graffiti, and he was wearing an outfit relevant to my concept. I really like the graffiti in this picture, as I think it represents the graffiti that Nottingham has. In the centre of Nottingham, especially, the graffiti is more like art than tag lines. I want to show this in my designs by making them more graphical.



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.


Another skill that we are being introduced to through this course is the art of pattern cutting. Our first task is to create a medieval Jerkin (waistcoat) to fit a member of the class. This garment happens to be in keeping with our current project.

To begin the process we paired off and took measurements of our partners. These measurements, then allowed us to draw out a basic mens block onto pattern paper. The reason we drew a mens block, regardless of the gender of our model, is the fact that a jerkin is a mens garment. This fact is important to remember in the theatre world, as actors and actresses often have to play the opposite gender.

After drawing our basic blocks, we needed to adapt them into the shape accurate to the jerkin. This involved us cutting along the waist line on both the front and the back. The reason for this is that a jerkin has an almost flared skirt section that extends from the waist. We also extended the arm holes to allow ease of movement, and moved the shoulder seems slightly.

The section of the pattern pieces from the waist down were used to create the skirt. We cut them into sections which we then flared out and traced to create the skirt. The skirt was to be as long or as short as we liked, and as full or as straight as we liked. This allows us to create garments that are better suited for our models.



Once I finished my model box I decided that it would be important to light the model box just to show my plan for the colouring. I haven’t yet got round to photograph it as the scenes take place, but I also think that is an important thing to do.


-Would be used for the court and the prison scene.





The finished versions of my costume designs are more refined. I have added colour in order to form a better representation of each character. I have also chosen to show all of each characters costumes on one sheet of paper. I think this allows their journeys to be shown.


-Scene 1: Ruth begins dressing herself. She is in the underwear below, and dresses into the pencil skirt and top. She remains in this outfit until scene 8.

-Scene 8: Ruth becomes the manageress of ‘The Little’ club. In this scene she changes into the red dress below. Here I think she becomes more confident in herself and more showy.

-Scene 9: Ruth comes into ‘The Little’ club wearing underwear and a mens dinner jacket. She is looking a little rough and is searching for alcohol. Here I drew her in the same underwear as the beginning, I wanted to make sure she still looked glamarous.

-Act 2 Scene 2: Ruth is in a coat and hat as she attends Vickie’s funeral. I put her in a statement red coat and a small simple hat. Social etiquette in the 50s was a lot more rigid than it is now with regards to funerals, and so I probably should have put her in black or at least with a black mourning band around her sleeve.

-Act 2 Scene 3: Ruth wears the red dress, she seductivly dances for Gale and begins to remove the dress.

-Act 2 Scene 4: Ruth is left in her underwear with a huge bloody blanket draped around her.

-Act 2 Scene 5: Simple grey button up prison uniform.

-Act 2 Scene 6: Ruth wears a black 2 piece suit and spike heels to her court hearing. She has just re bleached her hair.


-Scene 4: Vickie first appears with a coat on and a suitcase in hand. Here I have put her in a simple yellow wrap coat and a green dress.

-Scene 5: Ruth changes into a pair of green trousers and a cream cardigan. She also wears a green neck tie to glamourise the outfit. This is when she starts working for ‘The Court’ and so can afford a few more items of clothing.

-Act 2 Scene 6: Vickie becomes the judge. I have put her in exactly the same outfit as Ruth.



-Scene 2: Sylvia is wearing her everyday clothing. She is sophisticated in a high waisted full skirt and a tightly fitting jacket. The outfit is inspired by Dior’s new look.

-Scene 8: Sylvia puts on a black coat and black hat. The hat is on the side of her head, as a fashion statement.

-Act 2 Scene 5: Sylvia visits Ruth in jail and so wears her coat and hat again.

-Act 2 Scene 7: She is back in her everyday clothes as her and Doris get on with their work.



-Scene 6: She first appears in her simple cleaning outfit of a skirt, a apron, a blouse and a cardigan. She remains in this outfit for the duration of the play.

-Act 2 Scene 2: Doris puts on a simple black coat and a hat.

-Act 2 Scene 5: She is still wearing the coat and hat as she visits Ruth in jail.

-Act 2 Scene 7: She removes the coat.



-Scene 1: Gale is a shadowy figure wearing his 3 piece suit, over coat and trilby hat.

-Scene 2: Gale removes coat and hat.

-Act 2 Scene 1: Gale sits on the floor in a pile of case files. He is still wearing the suit, however he looks dishevelled. So jacket off, shirt untucked, tie untied.

-Act 2 Scene 3: Back into smart suit.

-Act 2 Scene 7: Gale puts on his overcoat and hat again as he departs from Sylvie and Doris’ lives.




After looking at the characterisation of each character I have begun to sketch ideas from the period. I created simple line drawings of the shapes of the outfits I envisage the characters to wear.




-Simple everyday outfit: I think that her character would be quite promiscuous and so would like to wear figure hugging clothes. This lead me to sketch her in a pencil skirt and high necked 3/4 sleeved top.


-Coat: She is mentioned to have worn a coat to Vickie’s funeral and in a few other scenes. For this I see her wearing a red coat, again to make a statement.

-Prison outfit: For the prison outfit I see her in a very simple, un glamorous practical dress. I found an image of a dress online that i think is perfect. It is a grey button down, long-sleeved, woolen dress.


-Underwear: The 50s was the era of the bullet bra. It was fashionable to have very coned breasts. Most of the underwear was pale peach colour.



-Everyday Clothes: I think she would definitely have been a lady who flicked through magazines constantly. That she would have wanted to be completely up to date with fashion. I think she is more daring as a character, and so trousers could be a good option for her character.


-Coat and suitcase: It is important to consider the fact that rationing was still in play at the time of the play. Each character would have most likely made their own clothes. I think her coat would have been very simple, yet in trend.


-Prison uniform: Exactly the same dress as Ruth’s. Makes her seem like a friendly face.


-Everyday outfit: A very sophisticated outfit, to show her age and how much she thinks of herself. The outfit is based around Dior’s new look.

-Coat and hat: A black coat and hat for the funeral of Vickie. Simple double breasted black coat with a pinched in waist, or a more full free flowing coat.



-Cleaning outfit: I think that she would have had a half apron rather than a full piny. I would like Doris to wear a simple cut skirt and blouse and a cardigan, with simple and practical black lace up shoes.

-Coat and hat: Again Doris wears a black coat and hat to Vickie’s funeral.I think that Doris’ main focus with her clothing choices would be practicality, and so I think she would have a very simple long button up black coat.



-3 piece suit: A traditional 3 piece suit; jacket, waistcoat and creased roll up trousers. He would also be wearing a tie clip and cuff links.

-Over coat and trilby: I think that Gale would be likely to wear a trench coat. The hat and trilby would most likely both be a browny colour.