THEATRE COSTUME, CELEBRITY PERSONA, AND THE ARCHIVE

EMILY COLLETT

Abstract


This essay considers the archived costume in relation to the concept of the celebrity performer’s persona. It takes as its case study the Shakespearean costume of Indigenous actress Deborah Mailman, housed in the Australian Performing Arts Collection. It considers what the materiality of the theatre costume might reveal and conceal about a performer’s personas. It asks to what extent artefacts in an archive might both create a new persona or freezeframe a particular construct of a performer. Central to the essay are questions of agency in relation to the memorialisation of a still living actress and the problematisation of persona in terms of the archived object. Can a costume generate its own persona in relation to the actress? And what are the power dynamics involved in persona construction when an archived costume presents a charged narrative which is very different to the actress’s current construction of her persona?

Keywords


Costume; Archive; Deborah Mailman; Indigenous; Memory; Shakespeare

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/psj2019vol5no2art918

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