• Costume Design Assignment


    Costumes are one of the most important parts of a play. The Costume Designer is charged with the task of making characters look the way they “are” in the mind of the playwright and director. Sometimes that “are” is realistic, historically accurate, believable; sometimes it’s symbolic, ahistorical, mythic. Either way, there are three main elements of a good costume design:

    1.  Color. The costume designer must use color to  differentiate the characters from one another, create associations with other characters, reveal symbolic dimensions of the character as well as any other task the director, the design crew, and the costumer want to use it for.
    The color palette should be in keeping with the set designer’s color scheme for the play; and colors should be considered in relationship to the colors you use for other characters. As with shape and texture, all costume designs are created for a particular scene, and have to create a unity within the scene that arises from the text and the directorial concept.

    2.       Shape. The shape of clothes tells us a lot about a character: triangles, squares, ovals, lines all send a message about who and what a character is. If a costume is shapeless, we will feel a certain way about the character; if it is constructed with a shape that fits either the naturalistic choice a character may make in the real world, or a shape that fits a director’s idea, the audience will have a different conception of the character, though they may not notice the fact that the shape of the costume influences their understanding of that character.

    3.       Texture/pattern. The texture of a fabric is a very important choice for the costume designer. Textures reveal a lot about characters, from their social status to their emotional state. Textures, as well as fabric patterns, are like colors, in that the lighting of the production has an enormous impact on them; a good designer understands how certain fabrics and patterns interact with the lights and will work with the lighting designer to create costumes that work well with the lighting design (and vice versa).


    Your assignment

    Create a costume design for any character from any play or story you know. Try and avoid characters from films or other iconic characters who already have costumes imprinted on our minds by others. Pick a scene from your play/story, give me a short 2-3 sentence setup of what is happening in the scene and develop a costume design for that character. In a 3-paragraph explanation, discuss why you chose the colors, shapes and textures that you did, providing some evidence from the text (lines of dialogue or exposition) as to why you made the choices you did. I have provided printable templates for costume designs I have copied from The Costumer’s Manifesto online: http://www.costumes.org/advice/1pages/renderinglinks.htm.

Last Modified on September 23, 2015