How do audiences look at actors in costume onstage? How does costume shape theatrical identity and form bodies? What do audiences wear to the theatre? This lively and cutting-edge book explores these questions, and engages with the various theoretical approaches to the study of actors in performance. Aoife Monks focuses in particular on the uncanny ways in which costume and the actor’s body are indistinguishable in the audience’s experience of a performance.
From the role of costume in Modernist theatre to the actor’s position in the fashion system, from nudity to stage ghosts, this wide-ranging exploration of costume, and its histories, argues for the centrality of costume to the spectator’s experience at the theatre. Drawing on examples from paintings, photographs, live performances, novels, reviews, blogs and plays, Monks presents a vibrant analysis of the very peculiar work that actors and costumes do on the stage.
Aoife Monks is Lecturer in Theatre Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. She has published on the work of the Wooster Group and Deborah Warner and global performances of Irishness.