Costume teams set creative tone for productions



Head costume designer for “Measure for Measure,” senior Summer Barnes, draws her ideas in a sketchbook before creating . This was Barnes’ first show without the aid of a professional costumer.

Jade Kwitkiwski, Arts Editor

Bright lights illuminate the young actors and actresses as they flit across the futuristic stage. Eloquent words of Shakespeare tumble off their tongues, captivating the room with words written hundreds of years ago. Now imagine that everyone on the stage, instaed of being adored with captivating details on their clothing, is wearing a plain, white t-shirt. With this absence of design choice, the story feels like it is missing something entirely.

Student costuming in the drama productions holds power in setting the tone and mood for the play through the decisions that have to be made for each piece. Through hours of diligent work and phases of creativity, the costume teams are what help make the shows come alive.

Head of costuming for this year’s Shakespeare production, “Measure for Measure,” senior Summer Barnes, described that in the past, there had been a professional adult costumer that came to help, but this year was the first year without one. This caused her to have much more responsibility.

“The cast of the Shakespeare show, recently, has been really big,” Barnes said. “There’s like 30 people. I think we have 60 costumes. With changes and people needing different things, in the beginning, it was overwhelming.”

Before creating any of the actual costumes, Barnes goes through phases of design back and forth with the director. She also works collaboratively with others in the cast who also aid her as “costume helpers.”

According to Barnes, 75 percent of her time is spent on planning the costumes and 25 percent is spent on the actual gathering of the costumes. The costumes are a mix of materials from the costume box, rented out costumes from other schools and pieces that they create and modify themselves.

Sophomore Maya van Overbeeke-Costello helped with costuming her freshman year for the show, “Peter and the Starcatcher.” According to van Overbeeke-Costello, the experience from last year has in some ways helped her in this year’s production.

“A lot of our costumes for the show come from the costume loft which is a room upstairs that’s just filled with costumes,” van Overbeeke-Costello said. “There’s a lot up there. So, now that I’ve had the experience from costuming last year, I know my way around the costume loft better and I’m also familiar with a lot of things.”

Van Overbeeke-Costello expressed that she prefers to be on stage, but also finds working behind the scenes just as rewarding. However, those who are not on stage, like the costume and light crews, often don’t receive as much credit as they should for their efforts, according to van Overbeeke-Costello.

I think that in theater, a lot of people focus on who has the most lines or who is right in the center of the stage, but they don’t realize how much goes into making all that happen. Everyone works so hard to make the show come together and a lot of them do it without the recognition.”

— Maya van Overbeeke-Costello, sophomore

“I think that in theater, a lot of people focus on who has the most lines or who is right in the center of the stage,” van Overbeeke-Costello said, ”But they don’t realize how much goes into making all that happen. Everyone works so hard to make the show come together and a lot of them do it without the recognition.”

Sophomore Dín Klein, who also helps Barnes with costumes, agreed with van Overbeeke-Costello, expressing that not everyone thinks of costume design when they’re watching the show.

“A lot of people will think the director is the most important part. But I think costumes are so important, and it really just brings the audiences’ mindset into this realistic setting,” Klein said.

Klein also explained that the road to creating the costumes was heavily influenced by the play’s setting: Tomorrow.

“We were trying to figure out how can we make this look more futuristic. What Summer did is she cut up in different ways, like some of them are just ripped to shreds,” Klein said. “There’s one with vertical pieces of fabric and it doesn’t even look like jeans anymore or just the seams of jeans. When we look at ourselves, we think we look weird, but it’s the future.”

According to Barnes, the aesthetic of the costumes is supposed to represent the near future, not hundreds of years from now. Typically, one would imagine robotic and metallic costumes, but that was not the case here.

“A lot of the stuff that we’re focusing on is the idea of pushing the trends that we have now,” Barnes said. “So for example, I looked at the ripped jeans that’s been recently. You know that one store that had plastic paneling in their jeans, something really weird like that. So I took that and I thought, well how could I extend that almost to the point of satire.”

Klein said that she finds helping the costume design process is rewarding because of the overall vision the group sees throughout the process of the costumes being created.

“We have an idea of what it could be. It definitely always changes based on what we can find,” Klein said. “So our ideas at the beginning versus what we actually come up with, it’s usually better and more than we ever could’ve imagined.”