Antony and Cleopatra Costumes by Designer Kate Schroeder


Greetings one and all for more Cleo Chat from Portland Actors Ensemble!  Today we are excited to feature our recent interview with the Costume Designer for our 2014 Shakespeare in the Parks production of Antony and Cleopatra, Kate Schroeder.  Today Kate talks to us about her inspiration and research for the stunning clothing that she’s created for this classic tale, and more!


Portland Actors Ensemble:  Cleo Chat with Antony and Cleopatra Costume Designer Kate Schroeder


Antony and Cleopatra Costume Designer Kate Schroeder

(Athena McElrath–AM)  What was your inspiration for the lovely costumes you’ve created for Antony and Cleopatra?

(Kate Schroeder–KS)  The difference between the cultural worlds of Egypt and Rome make for two very different inspirational stories. Egypt evokes an exotic world that could exist today, but has never been seen before. The inspiration for Egypt came from modern-day African and Arabic dress. The vibrant colors, large wigs and adornment of every kind create the contrast of Cleopatra’s court to the minimalism of Rome. Rome is a stark, militaristic world pulling on Nazi influences using a palette of black, gray and orange.


(AM)  How many costumes did you create for this production, and how long did it take to make them?

(KS)  Cleopatra alone has five complete outfit changes, but she has to be fabulous in everything we see her in and designing for her has been so much fun. In total, there are 28 costumes in the production. Most of my time was spent constructing wigs for Cleopatra and her court. Usually, I spent a full day on one wig. Cleopatra’s gold raffia wig and the Soothsayer’s headdress were the exceptions. They was constructed over two months. As for the costumes, I only made a few items from scratch. Cleopatra’s gold dress and corset are two of those items. I first made a mock-up of the dress in muslin then fit it to the actress. I then cut and sewed it all again out of the final gold fabric. I got lucky when making the corset, because I made it without making a muslin mock-up or fitting it to the actress.


(AM)  How did your research for A&C influence your designs for the show?

(KS)  National Geographic photographs made up a lot of my research particularly for the Egyptians, Pirates and the Soothsayer. This is most apparent in the Soothsayer’s headdress where I attempted to recreate a headdress worn by an African wise woman down to the size of the buttons I used. I also looked at photos of Bedouin women and paintings from ancient Mesopotamia for Egyptian costume research. If money were no object, every Egyptian character would be dripping head to toe in the real Bedouin silver; as it is, the costume equivalents look pretty good on our actors. The pirate’s costumes were based of the modern day clothing worn by real Somali pirates.


Portland Actors Ensemble:  Cleo Chat with Antony and Cleopatra Costume Designer Kate Schroeder

 Antony and Cleopatra Costume Rendering by Kate Schroeder

(AM)  Is there anything else you’d like to add that I’ve not asked?  Please do so!

It was a bit tricky designing and constructing in Oakland, CA and having the rest of the production team in Portland, OR. Skype was invaluable; I was able to keep in touch with Elizabeth, my director, and show her costume items in real time, which was really helpful. I’m really excited to be making my Portland stage debut with the Portland Actors Ensemble.


More Antony and Cleopatra Cleo Chat interviews coming up soon!



You can find our show schedule for Portland Actors Ensemble’s Antony and Cleopatra here–please join us and see this production that runs June 19th through July 26th.


Have any questions about Antony and Cleopatra?  We’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!


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Till next time,

Take pains; be perfect; adieu!

DCFC0486.JPGAthena McElrath is an actor and singer who is also an Administrative Board member with Portland Actor’s Ensemble.  She helps PAE with social media and educational outreach.  She often works onstage with her husband, K.J. McElrath, in their cabaret act, called McElrath Cabaret, which features songs from classic Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley.  For more: