Second-year BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts students worked with Plymouth Marjon University’s theatre company, The Actors Wheel, providing costume and prop support for their performance of William Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’.
Students met and collaborated with director Linzie Wishart and designer Fi Russell, helping to interpret Fi’s designs for the stage and supporting the performance from inception until the closing night.
Honing on the concept within the play that the character of the Duke becomes an arch manipulator, costume and prop designs for the play revolve around this idea of the Duke as a puppeteer and the other characters as puppets.
The 24 students took inspiration from Fi Russell’s original concepts and designed makeup and costumes to be worn by the actors, transforming them into puppets. Digitally printing their designs on stretchy skin-tone fabric, the students fitted and adjusted the costumes for the actors, ensuring that the designs were optimised for movement and allowed the actors to express themselves physically on-stage.
Student Rachel Kitchen said: “Before ‘Measure for Measure’ I’d never worked on a whole production from start to finish before, covering everything from fittings and alterations to dress rehearsals and the final performance. It was a great experience, getting to know the actors, building relationships with them and seeing the process from their points of view. I have a much better understanding now of how to help actors enhance their performances and how to support them through quick costume changes and alterations.
“Because there were so many people involved in the production, I was able to take on a role organising the costume and prop-creators into groups and keeping everyone updated about priorities and what tasks were still outstanding. I really enjoyed the whole process, particularly working as part of a big team. Working on ‘Measure for Measure’ has confirmed to me that I’d love to work in theatre after graduating. In fact, as a result this summer I’ll be volunteering with the Pendley Shakespeare Festival to support their costume department.”
Marie Dunaway, BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts Programme Leader, said: “‘Measure for Measure’ gave all of our second-year students an opportunity to gain invaluable experience of supporting a production from start to finish. There’s no better way to test your skills than to work as part of a team like this and put them into practice for a live audience. We’ve had a long partnership with The Actor’s Wheel and the results of our collaborations are always a great success.”