Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire
On Show 2020
Alison Nea

I designed Macbeth to be staged outdoors in Dublin’s Meeting House Square under the venue’s giant weather shielding umbrellas as a nod to the original open-air Shakespeare performances in the Globe Theatre London. Macbeth is a murderous story of tyranny and the hunger for power, spurred on by the fantastical ‘predictions’ of the three grotesque Wyrd Sisters. I sought out to create a dark and severe world that embodied this sense of evil, and greed. The opening cracks of lightning fill the set of giant foreboding shards of rusted metal, giving way to the steady flow of a stream of ‘blood’ from its splintered form.

The costumes are contemporary pieces designed to sit cohesively within this jagged metal world, taking influence from couture fashion with hints of 16th century styling. I created an ensemble of harsh red and black leathers and metal to illustrate the story’s tough and strong characters while adopting soft white and grey knits to create their tragic counterpart.

I constructed the costume for the lead character Macbeth in Act Five, when he has reached the peak of his murderous rampage and lost all shred of sanity, desperately grasping to the misleading predictions of the witches that ultimately lead to his demise. The ensemble consists of a quilted and wax thread embroidered black leather doublet, fastened with leather straps and sleeves with eyelets dressed in chaotic red lacing, a black denim wrap half-skirt layered over matching low-crotch pants – both buckled with denim belts, and finally a leather armour shoulder piece dyed red and black and carved with the image of a ‘hellhound’ – all fastened together with suede lacing and gun-metal buckles. This costume would also be worn by Macbeth in Act One but replaced with more subdued dull grey lacing on the jacket’s sleeve and grey leather armour to highlight the character’s path to lunacy and destruction.