This workshop will be an extended conversation on “considering costumes” as an integral part in the creation and development of character or as a critical design element in the success or failure of a given theatrical event. The truth, for many of us, is that budgets are tight (or even “non-existent”) – so tight that critical elements like costumes and make-up get pushed onto the back burner as more costly concerns, like the design and construction of a set, take priority.
To produce a piece of theatre is, to understate the obvious, a hard task. Rarely are any of us (particularly those of us working in education) in the position to give the kind of time, attention and money to all the necessary design elements that elevate the production values of any given theatrical event – it just doesn’t happen. And yet (we’ve all heard it), the thing that individuals not schooled in the citizenship of theatre will key off of in their critique of a given production is “what it looks like.” They’ll forgive novice acting, “they’re just students after all…” – but from Parents to Principals to Fine Arts Directors; they’ll all let you know what, in their opinion, looked good and what did not.
This workshop will forward the consideration that good theatre is primarily connected to good storytelling and that, good storytelling, can be greatly advanced in an empty space with flat lighting if costumes and make-up are given some significant weight in the design process.
Further, this workshop will explore what can be done with existing costumes to, with considered effort, re-articulate them for other efforts – for example: how does a contemporary coat become a 17th century period jacket? – it doesn’t really, but if it must, it can do it well or it can do it poorly. There are central questions surrounding fabric choices, texture, color, status, distressing and “period appropriateness” that, when given their due consideration, have the potential to greatly advance good storytelling and elevate any piece of theatre.