Eight ideas for a Shakespeare-themed Halloween costume, from Cleopatra to Snug the Lion

We’ve got eight great ideas for Shakespeare-themed Halloween costumes. (And if you need even more ideas, revisit our blog post from last year.)


Shirine Babb as Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra, Folger Theatre, 2017. Photos by Teresa Wood. Costumes designed by Mariah Hale.

Channel your inner Egyptian queen and go as Cleopatra from Antony and Cleopatra. Accessorizing with a live snake NOT recommended.

Mark Antony

Mark Antony
Cody Nickell as Mark Antony, Antony and Cleopatra, Folger Theatre, 2017. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Antony and Cleopatra costume designer Mariah Hale decided to go with more of a leather-wearing pirate look for Cody Nickell’s Mark Antony, which you could imitate. However, you could always opt for the classic toga this Halloween. Hale, who also worked on Folger Theatre’s 2014 production of Julius Caesar, offers quick and easy directions for transforming a bed sheet.


If you dress as Falstaff this Halloween, rowdy antics will be in character. You’ve got three Shakespeare plays to choose from, but don’t forget the antlers if you’re doing The Merry Wives of Windsor Falstaff.


Lindsay Wochley as a mad Ophelia and Justin Adams as her brother, Laertes, in Hamlet at Folger Theatre, 2010. Photo by Carol Pratt.

Flowers, straitjacket, acting crazy… If you want to re-write Ophelia’s ending in Hamlet, you could even add a life preserver to your costume.


Marybeth Fritzkey as Ariel in The Tempest, Folger Theatre, 2007. Photo by Carol Pratt.

Ariel is a spirit with magical powers in The Tempest, and the character has been portrayed onstage by both men and women. So you could take this in a number of directions.

Snug the Lion

Snug as the Lion
Megan Graves as Snug (Lion) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Folger Theatre, 2016. Photo by Teresa Wood.

The Rude Mechanicals in A Midsummer Night’s Dream stage a short play-within-the-play, Pyramus and Thisbe, with characters such as “Moonshine” and “Wall.” Really, either of these would make a great Halloween costume, but we’ve chosen to go with “Lion,” played by Snug. (Group costume potential!)

King Richard III

Richard III
Drew Cortese in Richard III, directed by Robert Richmond, Folger Theatre, 2014. Photo by Teresa Wood. Costume designed by Mariah Hale.

Grab a crown, practice your evil grimaces, and put a pillow under your jacket for the requisite hump.

Julia, Viola, or Rosalind

Some of Shakespeare’s most brilliant female characters spend their time dressed as men. Dressing up as one of these leading ladies is as easy as a trip to the menswear department. Bonus points to the guys who dress as women-dressed-as-men, just as Shakespeare’s all-male casts would have done. “Mike, are you just wearing your regular clothes?” “No, man, I’m Rosalind in disguise as Ganymede.”

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