Droolworthy Costuming

14 Sep

This week I auditioned for a role in Much Ado About Nothing. I didn’t get it (boo), but I did find Bill’s delicious description of a gown worn by the Duchess of Milan, Lady Not Appearing In This Play. One of Hero’s handmaidens tells her about it as Hero is prepping for her wedding, with the gist being “you look way better than that whore.” I think it’s perfect to kick off Droolworthy Costuming, a semi-regular feature I have just thought up, wherein I will post examples of Droolworthy Costuming and we will drool over it. Perhaps some day I will make a crappy graphic to go with this feature!

In the meantime, Behold! William Shakespeare presents The Inaugural Presentation of Droolworthy Costuming!

By my troth, ’s but a nightgown in respect of yours—cloth o’ gold, and cuts, and laced with silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves, and skirts, round underborne with a bluish tinsel.

No Fear Shakespeare, the text from which we auditioned and presumably from which the play will be performed, tells us that “cloth o’ gold” means “the cloth is interwoven with gold thread.”  That’s kind of…well…yeah, technically, but for fuck’s sake, could you make it sound a little more exciting? To make cloth of gold, one beats gold–actual honest-to-Tudor gold–into long thin strips, wraps those strips around a “core” thread of something like silk or linen (sometimes several such threads for padding), and weaves the resulting threads into cloth.  It was wildly expensive and difficult to come by, not to mention illegal for most people to wear. This is a particularly fabulous example of goldwork on cloth of gold. It’s fabric made of gold. Wearing it denotes enormous sums of money and power, especially as an entire gown.

Incidentally, I hate No Fear Shakespeare. It gives the reader the text of the play side-by-side with “modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today,” (which people?) which is usually boring and unnecessary, full of assumptions about tone or meaning that should be left up to the actor, and/or lacking any sort of cultural context, as we see above. I also find the double-text confusing. I much prefer me some Arden, with its fabulous footnotes and pages and pages of  historical context. I guess I’m not surprised that No Fear Shakespeare comes from the people who gave us SparkNotes.

Anyway, I’m not supposed to be bitching about questionable series, we’re supposed to be drooling! So, new life plan:

  • find job
  • earn tons of money
  • get hands on cloth of-gold
  • learn to sew
  • make this gown!
  • drool
Wish me luck!
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