Live Theatre Production: Costume design (including hair and make-up)

Live Theatre Production: Costume design (including hair and make-up)

Costume Design in Live Theatre Production

  • Costume design plays a significant role in a live theatre production as it enables the audience to understand a character’s personality, status, occupation and era the play is set in.
  • Costume designers work closely with the director, set designer, lighting designer, and sound designer to create a unified visual and aural environment for the performance.
  • Research is a vital part of costume design. Designers must understand the period, culture, fashion and social norms of the time the play is set.
  • Sketching preliminary designs using the information from the script and research is an important part of the process. It helps to visualize how the costume will look and assists in discussions with the director and other members of the production team.
  • The fabrics and colours used can convey a lot about a character’s mood, personality, and status. For example, dark colours may symbolise a sombre or intimidating character, while bright colours may be used to represent cheerful and vivacious characters.

Building and Maintenance of Costumes

  • The final phase of costume design is building the costumes. This involves actually creating the costume, a process which may involve sewing, cutting, dyeing, and fitting.
  • Versatility is crucial in costume design. Some costumes are designed to be quickly changed on stage during a performance, to represent the progression of time or a change in location.
  • Costume maintenance also plays a part in live theatre production as handling and cleaning of each costume must be carefully planned out and executed.
  • A costume shouldn’t just be a reflection of the character; it should also allow the actor or actress to feel comfortable and move freely during the performance.

Hair, Make-up and Lighting in Costume Design

  • A costume designer may also be responsible for coordinating or advising on hair and make-up so they align with, and enhance the overall appearance of each character.
  • Hair and make-up can help age or de-age a character, express their profession (a clown would likely have bold, colourful make-up), and may also show character transformation as the story moves along.
  • Lighting also needs to be considered. Different colours and intensity of lights can dramatically change the look of costumes, hair and makeup on stage. The costume, hair and makeup designer need to collaborate with the lighting designer to achieve the best outcome.

Organisational Skills in Costume Design

  • Costume design also involves keeping a large number of people organised and properly outfitted before and during the performance. Inventory and scheduling fittings are regular duties of a costume designer.