'Re-Dressing The Part': The scenographic strategies of Ellen Terry (1847-1928)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


This chapter considers dress, both on and off the stage, as a ‘scenographic strategy’ for self-fashioning and staging identity. Using celebrated actress Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as a case study, it builds on the ‘expanded’ approach to scenography advocated by McKinney and Palmer, to explores the ‘scenographic strategies’ Terry used to advertise her status at the forefront of Aestheticism and to cement her position as an icon of the movement.
Focussing on Terry’s time as the leading lady of the Lyceum Theatre (1878-1902), the discussion highlights the agency Terry exercised over a specific ‘scenographic element’ within Lyceum productions: her costume. As the chapter shows, Terry’s understanding of stage design, and the rare level of ‘scenographic agency’ she exercised over the design and creation of her costumes, enabled the actress to use these garments to both construct, and challenge, her public identity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScenography and Art History
Subtitle of host publicationPerformance Design and Visual Culture
EditorsViveka Kjellmer, Astrid Van Rosen
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
ISBN (Print)9781350204447
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Aestheticism
  • Agency
  • Costume
  • Dress
  • Self-fashioning
  • Ellen Terry
  • Stage
  • Scenography


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