Dressing for Winter: Costume Design for The Winter's Tale
Costumes have the power to set the scene, build the story and help carry you through the journey the actors are taking on stage. In The Winter’s Tale, the costumes differentiate the two worlds, Sicilia and Bohemia, and every aspect of their design works to facilitate that distinction. April Brown, a second year MFA student in costuming, gives us a look into the process of designing costumes and a sneak peak into what to expect when The Winter’s Tale opens April 16.
Costume designing for a show begins as soon as the previous show is on stage or finished with its run. Although no show is the same, Brown says, “the general process begins by reading the script and discussing with the director his or her concept for the show.” Once she has an idea of how the show is going to be staged, she “creates a scene-by-scene chart to determine when actors are on stage and who needs costumes at any given point.” She then researches the show’s time period and setting to guide her preliminary design ideas, and finally creates a full array of sketches for the director’s approval.
In The Winter’s Tale, distinguishing the play’s two disparate worlds created a unique challenge. For Sicilia, Brown is using cool colors, masculine silhouettes and heavier fabrics to set the tone; she set Bohemia apart with warm colors and iridescent, flowing fabrics that have a more natural, feminine shape. In Sicilia, costumes will also feature metal work, while the Bohemian attire will be embellished with natural decorations. Another challenge Brown says they have faced in designing for this show is that the costumes are completely conceptual, meaning there were no patterns to work from; instead, they are creating each piece from scratch.
Costumes play an important role in creating a show, but they must also balance with the other design elements, including sets and lighting. Brown says she works with the director to decide how the costumes will interact with the sets and whether they should stand out or blend in for each scene. “You want to keep everything visually equal in the sense that sets and costumes enhance each other,” says Brown.
Working to bring the costumes to life is a team of undergraduate and graduate students. Under the guidance of Professor Lisa Martin-Stuart and instructors Valerie Pruett and Spencer Henderson, the group of 10-15 precisely handcrafts each costume and then makes any alterations requested by the director. In addition , this team plays a crucial role during the run of the production, keeping the wardrobe in perfect shape for each night’s performance.
In the coming weeks all the costumes will be finished as they are prepped to take audiences into the fantastical world of The Winter’s Tale. See for yourself, as Theatre South Carolina presents The Winter’s Tale at Drayton Hall Theatre, April 16-25. Reserve your tickets by calling the box office at 777-2551; tickets go on sale April 9.
-Story by Stephanie Warren
Theatre South Carolina presents
The Winter's Tale
$16 General Public
$14 USC Faculty/Staff/Military
Box office: 777-2551
April 16: 8pm
April 17: 7pm and 11pm (1/2 price late night show)
April 21-23: 8pm
April 24: 7pm
April 25: 3pm