About 35 years ago, I bought William Shakesbear. He was one of the V.I.B.s (Very Important Bears) made by North American Bear Company. Others in the series included Amelia Bearhart, Kareem Abdul Jabbear, Humphrey Beargart, Lauren Bearcall and Queen Elizabear, but Shakesbear was the bear who won my heart.
Over the years, Shakesbear’s costume faded, his gauzy cuffs and neck ruff wore out along their folds and the elastic in his pants and shirt loosened. Right now, he is down to his striped velvet breeches, and they are as like as not to fall down whenever I move him. It’s quite embarrassing for a playwright of his stature.
I’ve been meaning to make him a new costume for a few years, but it has always fallen down my project queue in favor of knitting. Last Friday, I agreed to costume a production of “I Hate Hamlet” during next season of The Suffield (CT) Players and I am taking that as a sign that it is time to redress Shakesbear. I am planning to make him a new shirt, a black suit and possibly a gray half cloak. I’ve been looking at photos of Joseph Fiennes in “Shakespeare in Love” for inspiration. Stay tuned.