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Our Journal

Supporting the magic of children’s theatre

We explore the long relationship between The Soapbox Children's Theatre in Devonport Park, Plymouth and Plymouth College of Art BA (Hons) Costume Production staff and students.

Plymouth College of Art staff members and students have a long relationship of supporting the Soapbox Children’s Theatre, including particularly strong ties with our BA (Hons) Costume Production degree.

Founded over 20 years ago by Jacqueline Ball and Iain Slade, the Soapbox Children’s Theatre is an award-winning specialist theatre and arts venue that weaves together theatre and storytelling to captivate the imaginations of children and their families.

Creating cultural projects for children and their families, members of the Soapbox Theatre write, design and perform all of their own material.

Based in 33 acres of beautiful parkland in Devonport Park, Plymouth, the Soapbox Children’s Theatre has three performance areas, including a child-friendly indoor theatre auditorium and two outdoor theatre spaces, The Spellbound Storytelling Wood and the Soapbox Amphitheatre.

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‘Quest for the Ice Dragon’ featuring wizard costume made by Plymouth College of Art students

Throughout 2021, BA (Hons) Costume Production students created costumes for a variety of productions at the theatre, including goblin puppets and a fairy queen costume for the Spellbound Fairy and Goblin Festival held during the summer. Most recently, work created by students Teryl McCarthy Reid and Freya Holland in their first year of study was seen in the Quest for the Ice Dragon performance.

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The wizard’s coat

Marie Dunaway, Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader for BA (Hons) Costume Production at Plymouth College of Art, said: “Teryl and Freya did such excellent work on the wizard costume for The Quest for the Ice Dragon, it was executed to a high standard. Using designs by Jacqueline Slade, co-founder of the Soapbox Children’s Theatre, they created a coat with a complicated design that included multiple godet insertions and fabric manipulation to mimic dragon teeth, as well as being lined and robustly-made to be worn in all weathers.”

Diane Manoury, a second-year BA (Hons) Costume Production student, was recently employed as a Front of House Assistant at the Soapbox Children’s Theatre, where they will have hands-on opportunities to support future productions and gain invaluable insights into the needs and routines front and back-stage at a working theatre company.

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Closeup of the wizard’s coat

From script analysis to character realisation, our BA (Hons) Costume Production students develop practical and design skills for costume in performance, with a combination of technical focus with opportunities to experience the performance industry first-hand.

Both academically robust and creatively stimulating, the hugely diverse range of processes and media that we offer make us an exciting place to study costume production. Interdisciplinary collaboration is actively encouraged, particularly amongst peers in film and other media productions. Our students gain unrivalled access to a range of digital processes, textile printing and 3D-making.

Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader Marie Dunaway has worked as a costumier and supervisor for a variety of theatre companies including The Royal Exchange Manchester, The Royal Shakespeare Company and Channel 4, in addition to working as the Deputy Wardrobe Manager at Theatre Royal, Plymouth on West End Productions for Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Other Costume Production lecturers have specialisms that include pattern cutting and tailoring, millinery, 3D costume prop making, non-traditional performance practices and writing for performance, with a wide range of experience of working on film and TV productions, including Poldark, Rebecca, Book of Mormon, The Ghost Ship and Frontier.

To find out more about studying BA (Hons) Costume Production at Plymouth College of Art, visit an Open Day.