Shakespeare opens the closet

For the first time in seven years, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is selling part of its costume collection, and Halloween revelers are salivating already.

Need a Medieval knight's helmet? A sorcerer's cape? An outrageous hat from the 1910s? Chances are good you'll score it.

More than 100 boxes and 24 racks of costumes priced from $1 to $100 will be displayed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aug. 7, in the parking lot of OSF's warehouse at the corner of Helman and Hersey streets.

The costume sale is returning after OSF's costume shop and warehouse ran out of room.

"Now we're at capacity, so for the last few months we have been going through the stock," said Karen Rethman-Foll, costume rental manager at OSF.

"People in town look for the sale," she said. "We used to have one every other year at the old Pioneer log cabin."

This one will be bigger than any sale in the past, Rethman-Foll said. Some of the costumes are 30 years old. "What's interesting is that you go through things and think, 'I'd like to keep that,' but you just can't," she said.

The pieces are priced to move. More than 1,000 costumes are $2, said Rethman-Foll. If anything is left after the sale, it most likely will go back into stock.

Some of the more interesting pieces for sale are capes from "The Tempest" and the fanciful collections from "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor." Many costumes are from productions in the last five years. The pieces will bring back memories, said Rethman-Foll.

"We tend to re-use our costumes from show to show," said Rethman-Foll. Designers look over the costumes and decide whether they can be made into something else. Some of the costumes are so specific to shows that they can't be used again, said Rethman-Foll.

The sale allows people to see the exquisite details in some of the costumes that couldn't be seen by audiences, Rethman-Foll said.

OSF runs a rental service for other theaters, school productions and groups doing TV commercials. The costumes available for rent total more than 25,000 pieces. "We have an amazing amount of stuff," Rethman-Foll said. While these rentals are not open to personal use, many of the pieces will be at the sale.

Two volunteers have been pricing the numerous costumes for the past three weeks. "We have everything set up for them, they come in and work, sometimes all day," said Rethman-Foll.

Costumes priced at $5 and above will be hanging; $1 and $2 items will be in boxes.

"It should be quite wild," she said.

Reach reporter Johanna Thompson at 541-482-3456 ext. 225.

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