Top Seven Shakespeare Halloween Costumes

[ From the archives. Originally posted Oct 26, 2010 – way too late last year to actually use any of the ideas, so I’m recycling the post for this year! ]

Twelfth Night

You’re a girl? Dress up like a boy. You’re a boy? Dress up like a girl dressing up like a boy. Twelfth Night’s
main character spends the whole play in costume. We discovered, a few
months back, that she’s not even called by her real name until the very
end of the play!

Julius Caesar

Why just be
any ghost, when you can be Great Caesar’s Ghost(*)? Don’t skimp on the
knife wounds, or the blood. Lots and lots of blood. Or if you really
want to wear a toga and don’t want to get blood all over it, dip your
arms in the red stuff up to your elbows, then go as Brutus.

(*)
Bonus points if you can actually convince somebody to dress up like J
Jonah Jameson from the Spiderman movies, and then spend the night
pointing at you and shouting that.

Hamlet

I knew Hamlet
would make a good costume when my 4yr old spotted the idea on one of
his cartoon shows. After random channel flipping he comes running into
my office to tell me “Daddy, somebody on tv is dressed like
Shakespeare!” Along comes the 6 and 8yr olds to tell me “Well, not
Shakespeare – he’s dressed like Hamlet. He’s holding a skull and talking
to it.” Of course you could also go with Ophelia, although taking a
quick jump in the pool before going out trick or treating might cause
you to catch your death (ha!). Then again why not go as Hamlet’s
father’s ghost? I’ll leave it up to reader imagination to depict how
exactly you’d walk around wearing your beaver up.

The Tempest

A
witch (although, granted, she doesn’t really make much of an
appearance), a wizard, a sea monster, an airy spirit. Plenty of
opportunity here to take a traditional Halloween costume and really run
with it. If you want to get really creative, grab a partner and dress up
as Stefano and Trinculo. I always described them as pirates to my kids,
although “court jester” is probably more accurate.

Titus Andronicus

How
can you not have fun dressing up like Titus? Put on a chef’s hat and
bloody apron, carry a cleaver and a big stew pot. Throw a prop head in
it, maybe a prop hand while you’re at it. Shakespeare’s goriest tragedy
is often compared to a modern slasher movie, so why not just go
completely over the top with it? Bring along your daughter. Don’t let
her talk.

Macbeth

Ghosts make plenty of appearances in Shakespeare’s work, The Tempest and Midsummer
are both loaded with magical goings on … but really, is there any
play scarier than Macbeth? Dress up like a weird sister, dress up like
Banquo’s ghost. Or maybe a sleepwalking Lady Macbeth, covered in blood?
For the really inside reference, go as Macduff – carry around Macbeth’s
head.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Fairies
are timeless, in more ways than one. If you need a couple’s idea, why
not Titania and Oberon? I love the idea of an entire family dressing up
as Midsummer, with the kids playing the roles of Cobweb, Mustardseed and
the others. Or go in a completely different direction and make an ass
of yourself, literally.

Have I forgotten any? You can always
throw on your monk’s outfit and go as Friar Laurence (carry around a
pickaxe, crowbar or some other tomb-opening implement for extra credit),
or really grab any random “Elizabethan” or “Renaissance” costume from
the local store and say that you’re the lead in As You Like It, Much
Ado, or any of the other romantic comedies. What else? Who’s got the
creative ideas?

BONUS!  Halloween 2011, I went as Yorick! Complete with Hamlet borne upon my back.

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One thought on “Top Seven Shakespeare Halloween Costumes

  1. I would totally go as Lady Macbeth. But a Romeo and Juliet costume for a couple, would be just lovely. Since it's halloween, is up to them decide if is R&J before or after death. Want to scare the kids, don't forget your poison bottle and a dagger in the stomach. Othello could be a nice costume too. Or you could dress up as a pillow case and jump on your wife (ok. too much.). And why not just go as the Bard's ghost himself?

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