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Our Journal

All the drama of the Theatre

This September we are set to launch an exciting new 3 year degree programme in Costume Production and Associated Crafts, to train costumer designers and interpreters.

This degree programme aims to train students in pattern cutting and costume construction for all types of performance and will cover millinery, mask making, costume embellishment and historical and cultural studies.

“This dedicated course is a crucial step in rebuilding a necessary and valuable craft” said Dina Hall, Head of Wardrobe at Theatre Royal Plymouth. “A high level of expertise is required for the construction of costumes and accessories and these combined skills are hard to find in the local industry”.

Students will have opportunities to experience the performance industry within the South West, working with innovative touring companies through to large-scale shows. Live project briefs will give students a real insight into what it is like to work in the industry.

Top theatre practitioners acknowledge the loss of crafts skills that our costume Production graduates can repair. They include the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Head of Wardrobe, Alistair McArthur, who says: “Apart from good sewing and pattern cutting skills, there’s always been a gap for specialist areas when training for performance, for example in costume jewellery, dyeing, breaking down and costume millinery. Today’s students need to be flexible in their skills set. This course will give them more employment appeal.”

Chris Briton of theatre and film company Forkbeard Fantasy echoes those sentiments. He says: “The design and construction of costume and the related crafts is a fascinating area and requires a high level of specialised skills. Learning them within the vibrant, creative environment of Plymouth College of Art and having the benefit of the experience of professional companies in the South West is an empowering way to start a successful career.”

Sheila Snellgrove, Company Director of the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, feels the same: “I fully support the training of a new generation of costume and prop practitioners, and look forward to welcoming graduates with fresh ideas, enthusiasm and a good grounding in design and technical processes to our industry.”

Lecturer Marie Dunaway will be running the new programme; her experience includes working within the Fashion industry and at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. She moved into costume making as she explains the designs are often “extravagant and diverse and become part of a story.”

Plymouth is a fantastic cultural centre for the performing arts with the local Barbican Theatre and Theatre Royal. There is also the current expansion of our College to include an art, craft and digital design centre, part of a £7.7 million development project, which will provide access to the latest 3D printing and laser-cutting equipment with computer-aided design.

Higher Education courses are open for application until 30th June.