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Posted 16.02.15

Students create costumes for Knee High’s theatre production of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca

By Sarah Packer

Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, a Theatre Royal Plymouth production.

Four students from our BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts programme have been commissioned to create two of the costumes in Knee High’s touring adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.

Directed and adapted by Emma Rice, the production is based on the well known book and the iconic Alfred Hitchcock film, a classic of the genre.

Brought to life by internationally acclaimed theatre company, Knee High – a longstanding UK based theatre company – the show will tour from mid February to mid May around the UK.

Hannah McArthur and Tracey Ormston working on their costume

The four second year students – Hannah McArthur, Tracey Ormston, Fiona Gullis and Sophie Pring – were introduced to Lorna Price, Costume Supervisor at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and from there they had to put together a proposal and pitch their idea to those involved with the production.

“We get to work with international theatre designer Leslie Travers, which is amazing!" says Hannah McArthur.

Their proposal was chosen and they were asked to create the costumes for two characters, the belly dancer and the sheik.

Hannah McArthur and Tracey Ormston are working together on the belly dancer costume for the party scene, with Fiona Gullis and Sophie Pring working on the sheik costume.

BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts student Hannah McArthur

We spoke to the students about their experience so far,

“It is both exciting and challenging and has allowed us to create something with incredibly beautiful fabrics.

“Its a great chance to develop our professional practice and we will also be credited in the programme and the costumes will obviously tour with the production.

“We just want to say thank you to the Theatre Royal and Knee High for giving us this opportunity,” says Tracey.

Hannah McArthur explains, “We get to work with international theatre designer Leslie Travers, which is amazing!

“Our first fitting was the other week up in Bristol and we have been given about three weeks to make the costume which is quite a short deadline.

“We had to put together a proposal and present it to the company and the four of us were picked.They designed the costume and we then make it, its just a really professional, real world experience.”

Fiona Gullis and Sophie Pring working on the sheik costume

Student Fiona Gullis found the opportunity to work with Knee High her main highlight so far,

“Working with Knee High was on my wish list of people I wanted to work with. It’s very professional and great to work in a live environment and work to a strong deadline. It certainly gives you a lot of motivation!

“We have been treated like professionals and are involved with all the fittings," explains Sophie Pring.

“We all worked together but as independent groups – it’s a really nice working relationship that allows a lot of creativity.

“They have also supplied all the fabrics, so we have to make sure we get it right which has meant working 10 to 12 hour days – exhausting but fun.”

Sophie explains what its been like working on the sheik costume with Fiona,

“We have been treated like professionals and are involved with all the fittings. We had to go to a fitting in Bristol which used toile (rough fabric) to see what was working in the design.

“Our programme is developing a close relationship with the industry, which is very exciting for the students and the college. These commissions develop their confidence, professional practice and working links for the future,” says Marie Dunaway, BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts programme leader.

“There has been a lot of freedom in the work aswell, at the beginning we were given a photo of Rudolph Valentino and told to work from that with a few changes.

“We have had lots of conversations with TR2 and it’s been a very independent working process, we organised everything ourselves and the thought process was all down to us, which allows for us to put our own style into it a little bit.”

Marie Dunaway, BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts programme leader says, “It’s a paid commission and they are working on a professional design.

"And it is a touring production, so a great opportunity for them to develop their skills and see their costumes on the stage.

“Our programme is developing a close relationship with the industry, which is very exciting for the students and the college. These commissions develop their confidence, professional practice and working links for the future.”


You can buy tickets to the show on the Rebecca official website here.