Costume Design

I think costume design is the most time consuming and exacting part of the designer's work. The 'glory' may be in the set design because of its more obvious and immediate impact - it's so much bigger - but costume design, with its intimate interaction with the performers, is a much tougher process. Relatively few drawings remain of my work as many have been purloined by company members at the time and many shows don't really require putting pen to paper, being a process of selection from a theatre's stock (like 'Bloodbrothers' in Heilbron) or hire from a costume company such as Angels in London (as for 'A Summer's Day').

My approach to designing costumes has always been to try to communicate a vision of the character's performance by describing, to the best of my ability, as clear a sense of 'who' it's all about as much as 'what' might be worn. Unspectacular in themselves, the drawings are merely gestures towards a live event. A central belief for me is that the theatre is centred on the 'magic' of human presence and my work as a designer and teacher continues to be underpinned by that understanding.

Also, more controversially, I've come to the conclusion that successful interpersonal relationships are the overriding priority when working on a show and, what for me are often petty concerns of personal visual taste, - for example "I don't care if you hate it/think it has nothing to do with your character/never wear green, you MUST wear that costume, my artistic vision would be ruined if you don't"- are always worth abandoning if those relationships are threatened. In my experience a happy company stands a better chance of delivering a 'happy' show than one where everyone is, behind the scenes, at each other's throats.

small clown pic

Mrs Stevens

red man

female dancer as 'earth'

Four clown costumes for a theatre in education tour in Leicester 'An-I-Said-Well-I-Said', a
one act play I wrote in 1978

Designs for the British Dance Drama Company's national tour 1978
Design for a duet choreographed by Yoma Sasburgh for the British Dance Drama Theatre Company

the professor

two designs for the Marat/Sade

Mme Pernelle

Designs for 'The Lesson'by Eugene Ionesco, for Manitou Wabing, Ontario, Canada

Designs for the Herald and Rossignol in Peter Weiss' 'Marat/Sade', for the Leicester Phoenix Theatre

Three of the costume drawings for 'Tartuffe' at the National Theatre of Cyprus in Nicosia (March 1997).

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Last revised May 2005
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