|Detail from Costume designed by Martha Mann|
|Dancers from Opera Atelier|
1. Analysis: an initial analysis of the music and words to understand the period and setting of the production, the time of day, season of the year, social status of the characters
2. Concept Meeting with the Director: an effort to understand what the director is trying to say with this production and to clarify questions from her initial analysis
3. Research: a process which includes looking through picture files, paintings, books to identify motifs for the period, silhouettes and shapes of clothing, colour and styles of fabrics.
4. Rough drawings: development of initial pencil and watercolour sketches for costumes to establish shape, colour pallete for presentation and review with director, set designer and other parties
5. Final drawings: finalization of sketches as a communication tool for director. cutter, sewer, wig person, jewellery accessories, director and actor
|Costume by Martha Mann for Opera Atelier, Marriage of Figaro|
Although the sketches are "final", there still is much work to be done and that is when someone like Rita Brown steps in. Before cutting can begin, the concept for the costume may have to be modified depending on the size of an actor. As well, the availability of fabrics can affect the desired result and must be considered. A cutter must work closely with the designer and the actor through the various fittings to help define the character in visual form. According to Rita Brown, a "successful costume as one that is a blend of illusion and reality, clearly delineates the character, costs little, and wears forever".
|Costumes from the Shaw Festival by Rita Brown|
For both designer and cutter, two key challenges were identified. One was that the modern body is not corseted from a young age and that affects the creation of costumes with a defined period silhouette. Actors must be able to breathe and move freely and tight corsets are not comfortable on modern bodies. Another issue was the availability of fabrics for period productions. Since the stage never deals in reality, finding and choosing a fabric that meets budgetary constraints and which creates the illusion of belonging to a certain period is necessary. In Martha Mann's words, "a costume will always reflect the aesthetic of now."
|Dr. Alexandra Palmer, Rita Brown, Marshall Pynkoski, Martha Mann|