Theatre Productions – The Roles of a Costume Designer

One of the most important jobs in the theatre is that of costume designer. Much of what is seen on stage during the production is the work of the costume designer and his or her team, so the success or failure of the show largely hinges on the quality of the costumes. Great costumes can bring characters to life and make it easier for actors and actresses to engage the audience – poor costumes will make the shot seem low-budget and amateurish.

Of course, the job of costume designer is far more than simply sewing together a few outfits before the curtain goes up. The job is actually quite complex and involved, and the lead costume designer on a big show is sure to be an extremely busy person. Much in haytheatre the same way that hiring a great performer can help the show be successful, so too can a great costume designer be a key player in the popularity of the production.

Teamwork is Vital

Working together is important in any setting where more than one person is responsible for putting together a final product. That is certainly the case in the theatre, where there are a number of roles behind the scenes that are necessary to bring the production to life. The director, set designer, actors, and more all play a role in the project. A good costume designer will work closely together with these various people in order to make sure the costumes for the production are in line with everything else that is going to be done. Even the best looking costumes in the world won’t really be successful if they don’t make sense within the context of the show or the staging.

Getting the Period Right

The majority of productions take place at a very specific point in time – usually not the present day. That means that one of the most important jobs of the costume designer is to make the clothing ring true for the period that is supposed to be represented. Clothing styles have changed greatly from generation to generation over the years, meaning it requires thorough research to get this part of the job just right.

Responding to Changes

As costume design is a collaborative effort, there will inevitably be changes along the way. For instance, if a certain design doesn’t look good on the actor in question, it may need to be altered to achieve the desired look. The best costume designers are the ones who are open and willing to respond to changes that have been requested from others within the production.

Rehearsal Attendance

Most of the time, the costume designer will be in attendance when it comes time to complete rehearsals. Even the best planning will sometimes not work out right when the actors hit the stage to try everything out for the first time. It is important for the designer to watch the action unfold so he or she can make the necessary adjustments prior to opening night. If fact, even after the show has opened, the designer will still keep track of any changes that are taking place with the costumes so the necessary fixes or adjustments can be made along the way. For a show that is going to run for a long period of time, it is likely that changes will take place at some point between the opening night performance and the last curtain drop of the season.

Filling the role of costume designer requires that an individual have a long list of traits and qualifications. In addition to having an eye for design and a detailed understanding of fashion, this person must also work well with others and respond positively to feedback. In the end, only a hard working person who is dedicated to their craft is going to be successful in costume design.

Ben Wayne writes for Stage & Screen.