Spectacle is an eminent part of a play. Essentially, it signifies what the audience sees on stage. This can include scenery, costume, and light. All those elements are crucial to making up a play. Nonetheless, not all those elements are identical or constant in every play. Most plays have many diverse variations in scenery, costumes and light. The reason for these deviations is because the design artists needs to reflect that certain plays mood, time period, or socio-economic status. The designer must present a solid visual support of the story, concept and context of the play as whole.
Specifically, it is the costume designer’s responsibility to ensure that the costumes reflect the visual style of the production and aid actors to portray their characters adequately. Their designs must loyally and authentically imitate the personalities of the characters in the script. They must be visual artist; thus, these artists recognize what is pleasing to the eye. The colors, textures, and shape that a costume designer selects renders a pressing and eloquent visual statement to the audience.
The first step costume designers partake in, is reading the script. If the production is set in a particular historical era, the fashions of this period must be researched. Therefore, it is their responsibility to be a social and cultural historian. All these responsibilities are key to providing a fitting costume for all characters to represent a play effectively. The Tempest, Rough Magic, and The Wolves were three performances that had taken place on campus at the College of Charleston. Just like any other play, they all had different costumes tailored to fit the production of the play. Nevertheless, a few similarities can be seen within these plays.
The Tempest is a play that was written by William Shakespeare in the early 1600’s. Paul Rolfes, who was the director of this play, took a more page to stage approach. Therefore, this play essentially reflected the 17th century. The use of old English helped highlight that time period. Prospero, portrayed by Hunter Scott Rizer, was a powerful enchanter. His costume consisted of a long cloak that draped across his shoulders and a staff. On the contrary, a delicate-looking costume that expressed innocence, was for Miranda; she was the daughter of Prospero and was portrayed by Olivia Young.
Margaret Lavigne, the costume designer of The Tempest, had to design clothing for both of these actors that would fit the Shakespearean time period appropriately. The actors in both Rough Magic and The Wolves wore clothing more familiar to the audience’s eye because these plays took place in a modern time frame. Padgett Skardon, who designed costumes for The Wolves, had very different costumes compared to the other two plays.
Most of the actors in this play portray modern or 21st century high school soccer girls. Three functions of costume design are age, gender, and occupation. Thus, the girls wore what a typical high school soccer player would wear. They had their matching jerseys, shorts, long socks, and cleats with their hair tied back.
The director of Rough Magic was Evan Parry. He had stated that “… [Rough Magic] is made of the cloth works of Shakespeare, especially The Tempest.” Rough Magic used the story of The Tempest as a foundation to their play. In essence, the play is about the idea that the characters in The Tempest are not just characters in a story. They are actually well alive in this modern time period. Ryan Harris, the costume designer for Rough Magic, had to integrate 17th century clothing for the characters of The Tempest, as well as produce present day clothing for all other characters.
Caliban, played by Tanner Frost, was a character who greatly represented an integration of 17th century clothing and a more modern clothes. When he first appeared, it was as if he came straight out of the play, The Tempest. His clothing was unrecognizable to the modern eye, which made him stick out like a sore thumb. Melanie Porter and Chet Baxter, who was portrayed by Mary Kate Kelly and Noah George, had to help him blend in. Therefore, his costume changed from old-timey looking to a pair of skinny jeans and a regular tee-shirt, which fitted the modern time frame that play was set in. Chet Baxter was a seventeen-year-old boy lifeguard from Coney Island. His costume can be most similar to those of The Wolves because he is of closer age to those characters in the play. Instead, he dressed like what a typical 21st century high school boy would wear. His costume consisted of board shorts and shirt similar to a Hawaiian button up.
Prospero, portrayed by Scott Pattison, in Rough Magic also had a long, dark, and brooding cloak. His costume encompassed the tyrant look because he was portrayed as a villain. Melanie Porter was an overeducated dramaturg; she was a young woman living in New York by herself. Her costume consisted of a flowy skirt and a basic blouse, as seen in today’s time. Tisiphone, portrayed by Leon Williams, was the first Fury of Greek mythology; also known as, “The Blood Avenger”. Once again, a modern twist was taken for this character. Although, the nickname sounds quite scary and intimidating, his costume was quite the opposite. Since he was living and blending in today’s time frame, his costume was an over the top sparkly drag queen outfit.
To conclude, costume designers create the look of each character by designing clothes and accessories the actors will wear in the performance. Costumes can reinforce the mood and style of the production; they can also distinguish between major and minor characters. In addition, they can suggest changes in a character’s development. All plays will have similarities and differences in costumes due to variable such as, mood, socioeconomic status, or the historical time period. However, despite the similarities or differences, each theatrical play has different costumes tailored to fit that specific production.