Naomi Lazarus' Costume Archive Page ~ The Lady's Not For Burning

In 2004, I was hired by United Players to design the first show of their season, The Lady's Not For Burning by Christopher Fry. It was a very exciting production, the play taking place in 1500 England. I had a wonderful time, and was able to be very creative with the costumes.The play is about a family evening disrupted by a local witch trial and a stranger who uses his influence to rescue the young woman. It involved costumes changes for most of the characters.

This is Margaret, the matriarch of the clan. She had a wonderful presence onstage and carried off her pretentious clothing beautifully. Her party houppelland was a lot of fun to build.

Derek Carr was very funny as Tyson, the local magistrate, who is forced to deal with the accused young woman when she avoids the mobs by hiding in his house. Somehow even his yellow hose didn't diminish his pomposity.

Alison Raine was lovely as the accused woman, Jennet Jourdemayne. The director, Adam Henderson, wanted a wild look for her, as if it's plausible that she should be accused, so I made her a homespun gown in natural colours, with a belt hung with interesting objects. We also decided to leave her short hair, and not use a more period wig to create the effect that she's not quite a proper young woman.

For the party, Jennet borrows some of Margaret's old clothes, so I went with a party outfit from about 30 years earlier; a sideless surcoat called "the gates of hell". A fellow member of an historical research club I belong to the Society for Creative Anachronism has said that there's nothing sexier than a woman in a gates of hell. Alison Raine certainly made the most of it. She's described as resembling the night sky, so we went with something a bit glitzy.

Director Adam Henderson played the role of Thomas Mendip, a world-weary soldier who returns to find himself embroiled in Jennet's fate. Adam wanted his costume to hint at the second World War, which heavily influenced the playwright, so this was our compromise.

Tallulah Burton played the ingenue, Alizon, in this demure pink houpelland and cap. Adam Berquist was the servant Richard who falls madly in love with her.

Humphrey and Nicholas are Margaret's two sons who spend the entire play battling over whichever female happens to have crossed their paths most recently. I was going for the look of a pair of young louts/mama's boys with their costumes.

John Harris and Abraham Jedidiah played the two outsiders to the stories; the lawyer, Tappercoom and the old friar. John is a wonderful actor for wearing ridiculous costumes with wonderful flair, as you can see in the North Van Community Players 2006 production of Lock Up Your Daughters.


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