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( Click here to view costume pictures )
" The play`s the thing, but the costume helps make it so."
(Costume: The Performing Partner. By Jac Lewis and Miriam Striezheff Lewis. 1990.P149 )
If you get this point on our website and read any of this, please bear with me.....
This will be an opportunity for self indulgence as a great part of my life has been spent designing, cutting, constructing and researching the history of costume. All different types from adult historical, children, underwear, novelty, etc.
All I wish to do on this short page, is to stress the importance of costume and it`s role as a "companion to actors"( Lewis & Lewis. 1990).
I know from experience that all too often the wardrobe job is not popular and sometimes, in amateur companies, the director has even been known to do it. Actors need to be told what to wear and how to wear it properly, or the performance can suffer. In fact the whole show may suffer and look uncoordinated and not easy on the eye, sometimes to the point of distracting from the play itself. On the other hand, costume should not be intrusive.
Costume collation needs one (or more) enthusiastic and knowledgeable person to oversee the whole process, liaise with the actors, director, designer (if you are lucky to have one!), and bring the whole thing together. We, as an amateur company have to work to a small budget and it is difficult to find decent costumes that don`t cost a fortune to hire. I tend to make a lot of our costumes but only those that I think we will use again. A useful tip is, if you are doing a costume piece, to make common items, such as period shirts which will be used again frequently. Make the shirts without collars, jabots or cuffs so they can be added to suit the style of the production.
Another tip is to build up a good relationship with costume hire staff. Take great care of the costumes, wash what you can and return them in good condition. Believe me, this works!
Costume is rarely noticed or given the praise it merits in the media, but the reward is to see your work on the stage in a successful production.
Caramba are happy to hear from people interested in helping out with costuming productions. Please contact me if you have any costume questions or tips or just want to "chat" costume! I would be happy to share what I know. If you click on "Costume" above, it will link you to photos of costumes I have constructed during my career.