Shakespearean Superheroes

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Massive student collaboration to give DC characters a Jacobean makeover, in honour of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

The Arts University Bournemouth in the South of England is by far the best place to go to if you wish to see your nine grand a year going towards quality education and some pretty awesome time. These pictures will prove that.

Rounding up the first year of my Costume and Performance Design course, our beloved tutors talked to us with sparkling eyes about the projects waiting for us after the holiday. The first trimester would revolve around the Jacobean era, however, those of my course mates specialising in costume interpretation were sent home for the summer with the homework of watching every Batman movie that had been produced thus far.

Fast-forward to the beginning of second year, when this odd combination all made sense: two of our design tutors had been busy working throughout the summer to present the interpreters with original, jaw-dropping renditions of dozens of DC Comics characters’ costumes: they fused Batman’s world with that of Shakespeare’s. After proving just how awesome they are, feeding us homemade bat-shaped cookies, they laid out the designs on a table, memory card-style, for the students to pick one. On the back of the cards, there they were, Batman, Catwoman, the Joker, and tons of other allies and villains, even lesser known ones, such as Calendar Man; but this time, sporting silky bodices, velvet capes, ornate cuffs and giant ruffs.

Below the photos is the short film they created to celebrate Shakespeare week.

Pictures courtesy of the Arts University Bournemouth. Photographed by Andy Bate.

Batman and Hamlet

BatmanCostume made by Georgina Homer, gauntlets by Elly Willis.
Modelled by Connor Wilson-Taylor.

The idea was to celebrate Shakespeare in a fresh way by reimagining what DC comic characters would look like if they had been around in the Jacobean era – it was a hugely successful experiment and these costumes provided a great way to introduce his work to a new audience.

– Will Hargreaves, co-designer

Robin and Hamlet

Costume made by Danielle Levy. Modelled by Faye Butler.

The project was well-timed, released in honour of Shakespeare Week and the 400th anniversary of his death on 23rd April 2016, and the release of two DC films, Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad.

Bane and Macbeth

Costume made by Lily Bevan. Modelled by Joe Yusseff.

A series of male and female costumes were designed by AUB lecturers Will Hargreaves and Bunny Winter, and made by second year students under the guidance of tutors Mandy Barrington and Katerina Lawton. Each design involved the construction of either a doublet or bodice, but fused Jacobean period costume with emblematic superhero colours and motifs. The hat and prop making processes were aided by tutors Wayne Martin and Sam Edwards.

Despite the passion and enthusiasm my course mates worked with, it did take lots of despair, struggle, sweat, tears (and even blood), to fight the heavy fabrics, figure out the convolutions of patterns, and attempt such crafts as leather and metal work, screen printing, laser cutting, or millinery (hatmaking), while racing time to complete everything before the deadline.

Alfred Pennyworth and King Lear

Costume made by Rose Makamdem-Magaia. Model unknown.

Even though those of us specialising in costume design rather than making had a separate Jacobean project to work on, designing for Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, we also got to partake in this awesome project by volunteering to make props and accessories to complete the costumes.

I took on the challenge of sculpting a skull with a jester hat for the Joker’s cane, as seen in the next picture – I’ll write a how-to post to show you the detailed process if you ever feel like whipping up a novelty cane head for your stylish grandpa.

The Joker and As You Like It

Costume made by Hanna Cross, cane by Niki Konkoly (that’s me!).
Modelled by Nebras Jemali.

Further accessories and props were sourced, and the costume making was supervised by third year student Jess Hewett. Make-up and hair were done by the students collectively, with great help from Megan Barnett.
Fabrics appropriate to the period such as silks, wools, linens and leather were sourced from London and primary research was carried out at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s archive where students were able to access original 17th Century garments.

Harley Quinn and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Costume made by Ellice Bishop. Modelled by Emily Evans.

The images were photographed by AUB alumnus Andy Bate, who created a dark, rain-drenched world for the characters, who were played by students from the BA (Hons) Acting course. Then, students from the BA (Hons) Visual Communication course took famous Shakespeare quotes and integrated them with the characters. The project was executed under the guidance of Mark Sephton of creative agency Creative Forager.

The Riddler and Twelfth Night

Costume made by Kelly J Morgan, cane by San Sae, hat by Lois Hutchison. Modelled by Patrick Riley.

This costume made by my lovely friend, Kelly, was one of my favourites – just look at all that beauteous velvet and the devoré work she did to create those question marks.

Commissioner Gordon and Hamlet

Costume made by Chlöe Ranaboldo. Modelled by Ben Webber.

Green Arrow and The Merchant of Venice

Costume made by Jasmine Clark, bow and arrow by Phoebe Thorn and Alex Shore,
gauntlet by Hannah Davies. Modelled by Jack Greene.

Catwoman and Measure for Measure

Costume made by Hannah Rodgers. Modelled by Lorraine Moalosi.

Scarecrow and The Tempest

Costume made by Nina Sidney. Modelled by Joseph Jamfrey.

The Flash and As You Like It

Costume made by Lottie Higlett, gauntlets and mask by Amy Brown,
hat decoration piece by Casey O’Callaghan. Modelled by Ethan Harvey.

Two Face and Hamlet

Costume made by Issy Lawrence, make-up prosthetics by Ruth Mackenzie.
Modelled by Arndis Gunnardottir.

Mad Hatter and As You Like It

Costume made by Heather Filby. Modelled by Joseph Payne.

The Penguin and Titus Andronicus

Costume made by Steph Badley, umbrella by Jessica Mol, hat by Ffion Boyesen.
Modelled by James Kay.

Ragman and The Tempest

Costume made by Helen Tams. Modelled by Jade Dillon.

And, lastly, the fiercest of them all…

Calendar Man and Twelfth Night

CalendarmanCostume made by Sofía Gutiérrez Romero, mask by Elly Willis.
Modelled by Dan Patch.

We Are Such Stuf As Dreams Are Made On

The short film in which all the characters were brough together, thanks to Shakespeare. Directed by Will Hargreaves.

And this is how they all lined up for our exhibition:

batman-costumesSilken Spider (by Sophie Jensen), The Riddler (by Kelly J Morgan), and Calendar Man (by Sofía Gutiérrez Romero)

poison-ivyPoison Ivy (by Rhian Beavis)

Unfortunately, not all images had been edited of the vast amount of costumes and props my course mates created for this project – to see more, search for #ShakespeareSuperhero on Instagram and Facebook.

They are absolutely stunning, aren’t they? Which one was your favourite? Let me know in a comment!

And stay tuned for the next post about DIY metal cane heads!

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