King Richard III: A Hunch about his Costume

Sydney Vollmer, Archives & Rare Books Library Intern

For those faithful followers who have not been keeping up with local theater, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s next production will be Richard III, running February 17th through March 11th. Their website ( says of the show:

Shakespeare’s game of thrones enters its endgame as the history cycle’s final chapter takes the stage. The ruthless, remorseless and relentless Richard Plantagenet has his eyes set on the throne of England, and he makes the happy earth his hell as he carves a bloody swath through all that stands in his way. The History Cycle comes to its thrilling conclusion with the story of England’s most murderous monarch, Richard III. Paired with the production of Henry VI: The Wars of the Roses, Part 2, this theatrical event is not to be missed!

After our blog about King Lear’s various costumes, we were wondering how a local theater might approach Shakespearean costumes, especially that of one of his most ruthless villains. Looking through ARB’s Shakespeare collection, it seems like Richard III’s costume captures his evil nature. As a man thirsty for great power, he is often seen in ornate robes with excess decorations. Perhaps he does this to detract attention from his hunchback, which primarily because of Shakespeare, has been a manifest characteristic of the king for the past four centuries. Add a wicked gleam to the eyes and you get a powerfully intimidating monarch. Although we don’t know exactly what the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has in mind for its production, these images from our holdings are how we guess he may look.

To learn more about CSC’s version of Richard III and to see the costuming in person, have a look at their website. And if you’re interested in seeing more images from our Shakespeare volumes, please contact us at, call us at 513.556.1959, or visit our Shakespeare pages on the web at  We are also on Facebook at  You’ll find us on the 8th floor of Blegen library and our hours are M-F from 8am-5pm. Otherwise, stay tuned for next week when we get inside the mind of CSC’s resident costume designer, Amanda McGee. Maybe she’ll even tell us how she gets her costume ideas!