Costuming for Theatre – Practical Technical Theater DVD Series


Now is the time to go back through your notes
to discover and identify the mood, style, and tone of the play. When talking about style, it is important
to note that plays typically fall into two general categories: representational and presentational. In representational plays like Barefoot in
the Park staged by Alma High School in Arkansas, the actors carry out the story and the action
of the play as if they are unaware they are being watched or spied upon by an audience. In presentational plays, not only are the
actors aware of the audience, they often interact with them. Additionally, the audience acknowledges
they are involved in a theatrical experience. Aside from the style of the performance, the
scenery, props, lighting, makeup, and costumes can be representational, or presentational,
or a combination of both as in this production of The Elephant Man where the costumes are
realistic (or representational) and the setting is more stylized. The presentational look
of the set represented the idea of a three-ring circus. Let’s try drawing a basic body. Begin with
the head, keeping a couple of things in mind as you draw. The head establishes the size
of the body, so draw it large enough to be able to develop details, but small enough
to keep it on the paper. Typically a one inch head will give you a nice size drawing on
a regular size piece of paper. The head is not round, it is more oval or egg-shaped.
Keep that in mind or your characters could end up looking like this. Once you have established the size of the
head make some little tick marks to use as references as you continue to draw. As we continue, we’re going to think of
the body in terms of basic geometric shapes. The chest as a trapezoid sitting on top of
the hips, a smaller trapezoid. And the arms and legs are long ovals connected at the bend
points – the elbows and knees. Applying clothing to the body. Once you have
a solid understanding of proportion, developing an understanding of fabric and how it is affected
by everything from weight and texture to body types and gravity, will enable you to draw
clothing that is believable, and appropriate for your characters. One trick that some designers use to interpret
the look of a costume is to visualize a selected period in terms of basic geometric shapes.
Understanding basic silhouettes and shapes of various time periods helps the designer
instantly visualize how a costume should be constructed. Let’s take a look at how this concept works.
Clothing that hangs straight down from the shoulders create a cylinder or column. This
early Greeks, the 1920s, and the 1970s.

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