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The Design Arts of Theatre

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Introduction   ::   Scenic   ::   Costume   ::   Lighting   ::   Activities

The Costume Designer

Part 1  

Here's a quick quiz! Well, not a quiz really, but take a look:


Photo Courtesy of Marianne Sidwell

Tell me everything you can decipher about this character in terms of:

  1. Occupation
  2. Personality
  3. Social Class
  4. Age
  5. Cultural Customs & Manners
  6. Where she/he from

Part 2

Tell me everything you can about the above character, specifically:

  1. His age (or change of age)
  2. Occupation
  3. Where he lives or where he's from
  4. Cultural Customs & Manners
  5. Social Class
  6. Additionally (or inversely), what information do we get from:
  7. Color
  8. Silhouette
  9. Line & form
  10. Texture

A little harder because he's so, well, "normal," but I'm sure you did okay!

Part 3

The intent of the previous two exercises was to show, of course, that costume tells us a lot about a character. Costuming includes the clothing, hand props, and often hair and makeup.

The Costume Designer, like the Scenic Designer, makes renderings like this one from Phaedra , a classical play.

Costume designers are often great at sketching the human figure. When I've designed costumes, I usually just trace! Being both human figure sketching illiterate as well as color blind, I have a difficult time at costume design. Oh well.

And see what color, form, texture, and line do. If you want a villain, dress her in black! If you want a helpless hero, dress him in white! If you want to show that someone is happy, dress her in (fill in the blank: how about bright, fun colors like yellow, orange, blue). If you want to show that someone is morose and depressed, dress him in gray or neutral or brown. Or wipe out everyone's expectations and put a villain in white. If its clear in the text, your costume will become a fresh convention.

In many productions, however, costuming means searching through closets and attics to find things that will work. My favorite kind of costuming!

To see some really nifty costumes from recent and ongoing big shows check out the following link (my favorite is costumes from The Lion King ):

The International Theatre Design Archive

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, October 07). The Design Arts of Theatre. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/Theatre_Arts/Understanding_Theatre/The_Design_Arts_of_Theatre_3.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License