It will be like taking a step back in time when the Lambton Young Theatre Players stage their latest production, Robin Hood.
Set in 1195, the play, written by Sarnia-native Anna MacAlpine, aims to bring a glimpse of the Middle Ages to the local stage in a retelling of the famous legend.
Director Nancy Keys says MacAlpine spent a lot of time studying the period to make sure the play, while a comedy, accurately reflects the time period.
And the recreation of the Middle Ages has been meticulous. Keys researched clothing of the time. “Believe it or not, there are actually remnants of clothing from the Middle Ages that still exist …in bits and pieces,” says Keys. “It has been found on bodies that they have unearthed in some of the bogs in the UK – not only are the bodies in one piece, but so is the fabric because of the alkaline in the bog.”
Keys says the researches came up with a basic pattern – basically a T shaped tunic – which most peasant clothing for men and women used.
“We built all the peasant costumes on this pattern,” she says adding they have also stuck with linen and wool – the two fabrics most likely to be used by the peasant population. “There were no dyes for peasants because it was too expensive so everything was either grey or beige or light grey…We’re being very careful to make the costumes as true to the time period as possible.”
While it makes for a great history lesson, some of the young players were not overly impressed during the first fittings. Costumes for the groups production are usually quite colourful and many were disappointed to see they would be “wearing a sack.”
But after the initial reaction, Keys says the young people were quite interested in why people would wear this type of clothing. “Why so many layers? Well, they didn’t have the weather proofing and they were living in drafty houses…people weren’t washing their clothes on a regular basis, neither did they have any clothes which they could change.”
Keys says the only young actors excited about their costumes this time around are the main characters which will have more colourful attire. “But no peasants will have colour, they couldn’t afford the dye.”
The Lambton Young Theatre Players Robin Hood school matinees will be May 13 through 15. There will also be public showings of the play at the Sarnia Library Theatre.