This week's activity asks you to imagine you're designing the costumes for a new stage production.
Every Wednesday during the lockdown, we’ll be taking the opportunity to share some of our fantastic educational resources with you, including videos about a wide range of careers at the Belgrade, and activities and projects for you to try at home.
Today’s activity asks you to imagine that you’ve been tasked with creating the costumes for a new stage production. There are a lot of things to consider, from the setting of your story to how freely the actors wearing them will need to be able to move. Check out our videos below for some tips!
In our first video, Phizzical Artistic Director and Belgrade Theatre Senior Producer Sâmir Bhamra shows the development of a design for one of the costumes in Bring on the Bollywood, a comic romantic romp filled with vibrant costumes and energetic dance, heavily inspired by Bollywood cinema.
“This costume design was for a post-break-up scene. I wanted the character in a dark space but to also have a fiery element to her. I took inspiration from Indian gypsy skirts. The cropped blouse was originally part of a dress in a previous show that was repurposed.”
Here are some things to consider when designing your own stage costumes
- Who is the character who will be wearing them? What do they like? What kinds of clothes would they choose to wear? Try to get inside your character’s head.
- Where and when is your story set? Does your costume need to be historical, or specific to a certain country or culture? Will you use authentic materials and techniques to accurately reflect when your show is set, or are you just aiming to give a rough idea of a certain time period?
- What is happening in the scene where this costume will appear? Is your character dressed up for a party? Are they going on a date? Or are they staying home alone? How does the situation they are in affect their choice of clothing?
- What will the actor be doing in this costume? Is the scene very physical? Will they be dancing? Think about how flexible the costume will need to be to allow the performer to move comfortably.
- What effect are you trying to create? Should your character look spectacular? Silly? Ordinary?
- Think about the history of the costume itself. Should the outfit look brand new, or will you need to use techniques to make it look older and more worn-down? How might you show this?
- How well does the costume fit in with the overall design for the show? Is there a colour scheme or mood you want to stick to throughout the whole production?
Every production is unique and will have its own style, setting and requirements. Watch the videos below for more ideas from Lotte Collett, the designer of The Silver Sword, or check out our photo gallery for some images from a range of past productions, including some of our popular pantomimes.
Once you’ve designed your costumes, there are a few other practical things to think about before they can be made. Watch the video below from our Spanish Golden Age season to find out more about the practical side of creating and maintaining costumes.
Here are some follow-up questions to consider:
- What other costumes will your actor be wearing before and after this scene. Will they need to get changed quickly? You may need to avoid complex fastenings. Zips can get stuck, but velcro might be noisy if the actor needs to get changed in the wings (at the sides of the stage), rather than going back to their dressing room. Sometimes, strong magnets are used to get around this problem.
- Can you show that a scene or character has changed without a full costume change? Perhaps adding or taking away a jacket might be enough to show this.
- Your show might run for lots of performances. Will your costumes be strong enough to last? Will you need to create lots of versions of the same outfit?
If you enjoy this activity, please do share your costume designs with us by tagging us in your pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!