Queen Mab – Production and Costume Design by Caitlin McLeod

Design Statement

All art is a means of creative communication, a relay of ideas from the artist to the audience. Art is intended to engage the audience in an internal dialogue and force them to view their world in a new light. Through art people are forced to open their eyes to the cities in which they live, the roads they walk, to the doors they open, and even direct their gaze inwards to look upon their own mind.

To reach a viewer’s mind one must attack their subconscious – their dreams. It is through dreams that people are most susceptible to their own imagination. They are brought into a limitless world in which their imagination runs free. It is this engagement that inspires much of my work, as I strive through my works to replicate this sense of wonder.

In 2012 I conceived, fabricated and performed a performance art piece inspired by the speech of “Queen Mab” in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. In the play, Mercutio tells the tale of Queen Mab, a fairy queen who places images in dreamers’ minds. Queen Mab is a character of both malicious and joyous intentions, delivering not only dream imagery but also nightmares. This dichotomy intrigued me when I began designing and constructing my own dream images, resulting in a twisted dreamscape of conjoined unease and playfulness, ripe with imagination.

In my piece I explored the concept of delivering these dream images to the public, along with the impression of a give-and-take reciprocity. Queen Mab’s costume featured a skirt constructed from a series of dream images on paper and fabric which she gave out to audience members throughout the evening. Over time, her skirt gradually diminished as a result of engaging with the public, revealing her legs and resulting in a hollow appearance beneath the hoop skirt foundation. This depletion of Queen Mab’s silhouette drew attention to her relationship with her audience, wherein she gives and they take. It illustrates her arc from day to day as a bountiful deliverer of imagery who comes home as a skeleton of her former self, satisfied at the amount of imaginative discourse she instigated as a result. It was also important that Queen Mab, as the deliverer of dreams, appeared as “other worldly” as possible. To attain this effect, she wore stilts to augment her height and donned a headdress to abstract her features.

This piece relates to the Prague Quadrennial’s vision of shared space, specifically that of the cerebral arena of imagined space and mental space. The concept of “Queen Mab” transcends the physical barrier into the audiences’ imagination, to spark an internal artistic discourse. Within this context the “Queen Mab” relates to weather as well on the cerebral landscape of the imagination. Weather is the shared human experience of atmospheric changes, which “Queen Mab” activates within the currents of the mind.