Scenographic practice in contemporary chamber Theatre

Scenographic practice in contemporary chamber Theatre

by Benjamin Schostakowski

 

This PhD research project explored scenographic practice in the creation and presentation of contemporary chamber theatre. The employed practice-led approach allowed for exploration of theoretical insights around stage composition within the chamber theatre form, directly resulting in the creation of two new performance works. This document details the development of the conceptual framework informed though creating What’s Wrong with Gregor Post? and the two creative practice research cycles creating A Tribute of Sorts (Versions I & II). The study arose from an enthusiasm of practice – my interest in creating contemporary theatre works that exploit intimacy through scenographic activation. The practical component of this study holds a weighting of 75%, the exegetical component holds the remaining 25%.

This study’s focus is on the operation of chamber theatre space, not necessarily the styles of work in that space. In order to set up the study, the term “chamber theatre” is redefined from being ‘a form of performance and dramaturgy that restricts the stage means of expression, the numbers of spectators and actors and the scope of the themes’ (Pavis 1998, 46) to become theatre works that are, either through design structures or their physical performance space, intimate, confined or framed.

Rather than identifying existing gaps in literature the goal of this study was to take a theoretical idea related to the practice of scenography and apply it in a practical setting. In this way, the study investigated if the scenographic components of a chamber theatre performance could be employed as a machine that operates according to its own logic of operations, psycho-plastic manipulations, and metatheatricality. By doing so, testing if the scenography becomes a dramaturgy that contributes to spectorial meaning-making in and of itself – to discover if the theory works to achieve outcomes in a practical context. Christopher Baugh’s seminal text, Theatre Performance and Technology: the development of scenography in the twentieth century (2005), offers a way of engaging with contemporary scenography that resonated strongly with my practice as a theatre-maker. Baugh’s theoretical propositions worked to propel this study forward through three creative practice cycles.

By analysing particular moments in the creative development cycles of making What’s Wrong with Gregor Post? and A Tribute of Sorts, this study proposes that elements of scenographic process can be employed as a practical means of creating contemporary chamber theatre. This study offers theorists and practitioners a clearer understanding of how scenography functions in the creation and presentation of performance work made for chamber theatre spaces.

As an Australian scenographer whose career as an emerging artist is centred on creating performances in chamber theatre space and within intimate design structures, I have experienced a gap in methodological approaches specific to working in chamber spaces. This study charts my personal working practice and is an attempt to connect existing scenographic theory to a more specific context, to the development and performance of contemporary chamber theatre.

 

Read the full research here

 

NETWORK AND COLLABORATION

MAZZANTI PIUME

Feathers are magic. Malleable material, symbol of beauty and power. Since three generations we re-create fashion and design through natures first element of beauty, feathers. From our ancient craftmenship rises our bet creation, Nanà Firenze, our masterpiece collection of head-dress & accessories, entirely created with feathers and love. Head sculptures, fashinators for ceremony and everyday use. Feathered bags, fashion ornam

To know more http://www.mazzantipiume.it/en/

FILISTRUCCHI

The birth of Filistrucchi company, the oldest workshop of Florence passed on from father to son, dates back to 1720.

The secrets of the ancient craft, wigmaking tradition and make-up, have been handed down from generation to generation, and today, along with the newest and most modern techniques, help ensure valuable high quality handmade products. We produce wigs, beards, mustaches, hairpieces, and akin in natural hair

To know more https://www.filistrucchi.com/en/

SPAZIO NOTA

The “Oltrarno” area, which lies on the left bank of the Arno River, is the home of Florence’s artisan and craftsmen.

Here you can find Spazio NOTA – Nuova Officina Toscana Artigianato, a multifunctional place for cultural events and programmes, counselling and educational activities, training courses all relating to artistic craftsmanship and especially to tailoring and fashion world

To know more https://www.spazionota.it/

GIUSTO MANETTI BATTILORO

The Manetti family has been running the Battiloro business since 1600. In Florence, fifteen generations have produced real gold and silver leaf of the highest quality, following the ancient methods and traditions, but using some of the most cutting-edge structures and technologies in the world.

Research and development, tradition and work ethic are the secrets of their trademark’s success, a trademark founded in 1820 by Luigi Manetti. The company was one of the first to export real ‘Made in Italy’ gold leaf all over the world. Now it is the market leader.

They work with the most important architects, gilders, restorers, museums, religious institutions and more recently with chefs and cosmetic companies. From Paris to Hong Kong, by way of

 

To know more http://www.manetti.com/en/

 

ACADEMY OF MUSIC, DANCE AND FINE ARTS

The Academy of Music and Dance in Plovdiv started its existence in 1964 as a branch of the Bulgarian State Conservatoire, located in Sofia at that time. The foundations of this initiative were laid by the renowned Bulgarian musician and vigorous figure of culture Professor Asen Diamandiev. A significant merit for the implementation of the idea is rendered to Professor Vladimir Avramov and Professor Aleksandar Neynski, Chancellors of the Bulgarian State Conservatoire at that time

 

To know more http://try.artacademyplovdiv.com/EN/home.html

 

 

World Scenography 1990-2005

World Scenography Book Project
Mission Statement

World Scenography is a new book series that documents significant contemporary theatrical design worldwide since 1975. There has been no comprehensive documentation of global scenography since the four-volume series Stage Design Throughout the World, by Belgian professor René Hainaux, covered the period 1935-1975. This new series, to be published both in print and online, will cover the periods of 1975-1990, 1990-2005, and 2005-2015 respectively. The first volume was launched at the USITT Conference in Long Beach, California, in March 2012; the second is scheduled to appear at the World Stage Design 2013 in Cardiff, Wales; and the third at the Prague Quadrennial 2015. It is anticipated that following the publication of these three volumes, OISTAT will continue to publish another volume every ten years. The book series is an official project of OISTAT, the International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians. The international editorial team for World Scenography is led by co-editors Peter McKinnon (Canada) and Eric Fielding (USA). led by co-editors Peter McKinnon (Canada) and Eric Fielding (USA).


World Scenography is a project of the Publications and Communications Commission of the International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians and is endorsed by the International Federation for Theatre Research, the International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts, the International Association of Theatre Critics, the Theatre Library Association, the International Theatre Institute and is generously funded by Brigham Young University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts

Book Description

This is the second volume of the World Scenography book series that documents for posterity a collection of significant and influential theatrical set, costume, and lighting designs. The first volume documented 1975-1990. This one covers 1990-2005 and presents designs for 409 productions from 55 countries representing the work of hundreds of designers as researched by a group of more than 100 dedicated volunteers from around the globe.

Ground-breaking productions highlighted include The Lion King, An Inspector Calls, Blue Man Group, Cabaret, the 2000 Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony, several stunning productions of The Ring Cycle, along with the Bregenz Festival’s Nabucco, West Side Story, Porgy & Bess, and La Bohème; Teatro da Vertigem’s The Book of Job and Apocalypse 1:11; and Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère, O, and Kà.

Many the designs have been honored previously with such awards as the Olivier, Tony, Obie, Alfréd Radok, Golden Mask, and Molière, along with gold medals from the Prague Quadrennial and World Stage Design.

Among the many notable designers documented are Dale Chihuly, Bob Crowley, Koji Hamai, Dorita Hannah, Kazue Hatano, Pamela Howard, Richard Hudson, Mary Kerr, Yannis Kokkos, Michael Levine, William Ivey Long, Santo Loquasto, Richard Peduzzi, Cameron Porteous, Marina Raytchinova, Rosalie, Simona Rybáková, J. C. Serroni, Jiro Shima, Jean-Marc Stehlé, Ichiro Takada, Jennifer Tipton, George Tsypin, Joe Vanek, Tony Walton, Austin Wang, Herbert Wernicke, and Sue Willmington.

McKinnon and Fielding led an international team of researchers and associate editors to produce World Scenography 1975-1990 and, now, 1990-2005. The World Scenography book series was inspired by and seeks to build on the foundation established by the four volumes of Stage Design Throughout the World that were edited by Belgian professor René Hainaux and covered 1945 thru 1975. This book series started with a remark from Eric Fielding at the Honourable Scenographers’ Forum at the Prague Quadrennial in 2007 and a proposal by Peter McKinnon during their dinner that followed. Plans are for OISTAT to publish a third volume in the series documenting 2005-2015 with subsequent volumes each decade thereafter.

Publisher

The book series is being published by the International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians (OISTAT) and is a project of the OISTAT Publications and Communication Commission. OISTAT is a UNESCO-recognised organisation. Through its member centres and its individual and associate members, OISTAT draws together theatre production professionals from around the world for mutual learning and benefit. Its working commissions are in the areas of scenography, theatre technology, publications and communication, history and theory, education, and architecture. Both of the editors have worked for many years to benefit theatre professionals internationally through their involvement in OISTAT.

Editors

Eric Fielding is professor emeritus of scenic design at Brigham Young University; 30-year member of United Scenic Artists 829; USITT Fellow, former Vice-President, Founders’ Award and Lifetime Member Award recipient; and former editor of TD&T. He served as designer for the gold medal-winning American exhibit at PQ’91; and was creator of the World Stage Design exhibition and director of its first mounting in Toronto, March 2005.

Peter McKinnon is professor of design and management at York University in Toronto; lighting designer on some 450 shows, principally dance and opera; an organizer of the Canadian exhibit at PQ’07; past president of Associated Designers of Canada; and 16-year member of the OISTAT executive committee. He has produced shows off- and on-Broadway and in Edinburgh. He edited One show, One Audience, One Single Space by Jean-Guy Lecat.

Details

World Scenography 1990-2005
by Eric Fielding & Peter McKinnon, co-editors
ISBN OISTAT: 978-92-990063-3-7 (hardcover), 978-92-990063-4-4 (softcover)
ISBN NHB: 978-1-84842-450-0 (hardcover), 978-1-84842-451-7 (softcover)
Number of pages: 432 pages
Images: 1300, color and B&W
Language of text: English
Format: 228mm x 310mm/9″ x 12″ (softcover edition); 236mm x 312mm/9.5″ x 12.5″ (hardcover edition)
Publication date: November 2014
Country of publication: Taiwan
Publisher: OISTAT (International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians)

Purchase Information

To order now, click here

For Further Information

For any questions or requests for additional information, please contact the editors at:

info@worldscenography.org

 

 

Theatre Arts Creative Enterprises

Art Entrepreneurship and the Cultural Industries

The idea that arts businesses are somehow not serious businesses, that they are frivolous or insignificant, tended to be common during the 1980s; but this view is much less widely held now and entrepreneurship in the creative industry sector has been now recognized as a distinctive and increasingly important area of the European economy.

Arts organizations are founded on the principles of innovation and entrepreneurship: those industries have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and have potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. Yet the dynamics of the creative sector do not necessarily always operate on the same way as for businesses in other sectors in the economy.

Artist-entrepreneurs

Artist-entrepreneurs may not necessarily even have set up to start business. Their main focus may be on developing their own practice, but they then face need to come to terms with the commercial environment in order to be able to make enough money to continue their artistic work; another option is to see the commercial market as means of communicating with larger audience which then involves developing the necessary management and organizational skills to facilitate the performance and promotion of their work e.g. writing business plans and understanding of copyright and contractual issues.

Freelancing and self-employment are the most frequent types of employment in the creative sector and here are particularly large concentrations of small enterprises. Enterprises tend to remain small-scale because of the creative nature of the activities involved: artist-entrepreneurs’ need to have control over heir creativity and the integration of innovation into heir practice.

EU Policy Framework

  • January 2013: Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan actions by Commission and at all levels (national, regional, local) in 3 action pillars;
  • Entrepreneurship education;
  • Environment where entrepreneurs flourish & grow; • Awareness & outreach to specific groups.

Promoting Entrepreneurship in Cultural Creative Industries (CCI) in Europe

CCIs are by nature inter-disciplinary, they combine culture on one hand and economy on the other.

Arts and culture are often described as the core in a system where the cultural and creative industries surround the core and the wider economy surrounds the cultural and creative industries in Europe.

Key questions on education for entrepreneurship

  • What is distinctive about cultural entrepreneurship and how can it be taught in scenography and set design?
  • What is the role of formal and non-formal educational institutions in Europe in developing relationships with the creative industries sector and in developing training and support systems for aspiring professional young artists?

Key points on scenography entrepreneurial education

  • Develop students’/young professionals` entrepreneurial ‘mindset’ within an inter-cultural setting (interdisciplinary approaches, creative/business clusters, collaborative problemsolving, enhanced commercial know-how…);
  • Create strong, innovative entrepreneurial projects using clear communication, negotiation and international networking skills;
  • Foster the capacity to integrate creativity and innovation.

Towards Cultural Entrepreneurship in Scenography Young professionals should explore: the role of creative industries in the workplace, interdisciplinary business clusters and their potential for business innovation, self-employment as a career option and the importance of cross-cultural, inter-and multi-disciplinary cross-arts collaboration (art, marketing, management, ICT, business, multimedia and communication).

With regard to entrepreneurial opportunities in set design, emphasis is placed on the ability of young entrepreneurs to identify and exploit the opportunity to transform the theater into a real cultural center interwoven into different artistic languages, leaving intact its theatrical vocation, but at the same time enhancing its image and broadening  its horizons, thus attracting new audiences.

Read more about Theatre Arts Creative Enterprises

Rakodelnicata.

 

 

 

Theater set construction

SET CONSTRUCTION

Set construction is the process undertaken by a construction manager to build full-scale scenery, as specified by a production designer or art director working in collaboration with the director of a production to create a set for a theatrical, film or television production. The set designer produces a scale model, scale drawings, paint elevations (a scale painting supplied to the scenic painter of each element that requires painting), and research about props, textures, and so on. Scale drawings typically include a groundplan, elevation, and section of the complete set, as well as more detailed drawings of individual scenic elements which, in theatrical productions, may be static, flown, or built onto scenery wagons. Models and paint elevations are frequently hand-produced, though in recent years, many Production Designers and most commercial theatres have begun producing scale drawings with the aid of computer drafting programs such as AutoCAD or Vectorworks.

THEATER SET CONSTRUCTION

In theater, the technical director or production manager is the person responsible for evaluating the finished designs and considering budget and time limitations. He or she engineers the scenery, has it redrafted for building, budgets time, crew and materials, and liaisons between the designer and the shop. Technical directors often have assistant technical directors whose duties can range from drafting to actually building scenery.

A scene shop, in theatrical production is often overseen by a shop foreman or master carpenter. This person assigns tasks, does direct supervision of carpenters, and deals with day-to-day matters such as absences, breaks, tool repair, etc. The staff of a scene shop is usually referred to as scenic carpenters, but within that there are many specialities such as plasterers, welders, and scenic stitchers. Scenic painting is a separate aspect of scenic construction, although the scenic painter usually answers to the technical director.

INTO THE WOODS

Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel”, and “Cinderella”, as well as several others. The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning of The Grimm Brothers’ Rapunzel), their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.

Into the Woods was playing in 2014 at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with Lee Blakeley’s directing.

The amazing Alex Eales’ set reuses the turntable used in Sunday In the Park with George musical. With a diameter of 11.50 meters It allows for many change of scenery.
For the revolving forest, the trees are designed from tubes on which they add polystyrene asperities in order to give them a real appearance.

Next comes the “matièrage” step and then the colorization. Real branches are also added to the 42 trees that populate the Into the Woods forest.

Peek inside the Théâtre du Châtelet’s Atelier décors!

Eighteenth Century theater costumes

More than just a beauty mark and a towering crown of powdered hair, 18th century costumes allow actors to portray the different aspects of their characters while staying within the height of fashion and style. Quite different from today’s casual dress of jeans and T-shirts, the costumes worn in the 18th century were distinctive with their use of luxuriant fabrics and complex design.

The Fabrics

Fabric for men and women’s costumes in the 18th century ranged from taffeta, heavy silks and wool to linen and twill. In some European countries such as England and France, legislation was passed to make it illegal for cotton to be imported. However, cotton painted with flowery patterns was still smuggled in and worn. The costumes worn by men and women of this time did not commonly use cotton and cheaper fabrics. Rather it was the brocade and ribbed silk and patterned twill and wool that graced the actors and actresses of the 18th century.

Styles of Costumes

Costumes tended to be exaggerated versions of 18th century fashion. As theatre-going was a highly visual art, elaborate designs were created to satisfy the royal court and the rest of the audience. Women’s dress was made up with a long, laced bodice, with a wide and flounced petticoat. This bell-shaped dress was constructed out of wire, with luxuriant fabrics such as satin draped over top.

Men’s costumes in 18th century Europe were designed with high-waisted, knee-length trousers and a loose white blouse tucked into the trousers. An elaborately decorated, knee-length coat was put on over the shirt and trousers. The coat was adorned with a row of metal buttons. The jacket traditionally had an full A-line cut in the earlier part of the 18th century. Men’s jackets begin to have a more streamlined look with less fabric toward the middle of the 18th Century.

Hair and Accessories

Hair, in addition to clothing, was large and spectacular to please the viewers in the theatre. Women’s hair was teased and curled in high headdresses. Women’s hair was adorned with jewels, ribbons and feathers. The more curls and additions the hair could be formed into, the better the headdress. Marie Antoinette furthered the fashion of elaborate headdresses by decorating her hair with multiple feathers and ribbons.

Men were bareheaded or wore wide, boat-like hats in the 18th century. Hats with pointed feathers, embroidered lace and other additions added to the wild styles of fashion vogue. Additionally men took to wearing ties made of black ribbon, long hanging neckbands or cravats decorated sometimes with lace or embroidery.

Shoes and Legwear

Men and women both commonly wore high-heeled shoes in costume and in daily life. Both sexes wore white silk stockings to cover their legs. Men’s stockings rose to the knee where the pant began, and women’s stockings were longer, going up to the thigh. Shoes were commonly made out of brocade silk and leather.

Read more about Eighteenth Century Theater costumes

The decoration of the Theatre costume

HAND PRINTING ON FABRIC

To create theatrical costumes is it necessary a preliminary philological study in accord to creating a realistic dress able to support the illusion on the stage. It’s necessary to follow style of ancient manner, select fabrics that are suitable to make the correct volume and to pay attention to details as decorative ornaments and finish. Regarding this last aspect, the dress decoration can be developed by the costume designer and tailor thank to manual techniques that create strong and effective visual impact: hand printing on cloth is one of these.

TEXTILE PRINTING

Textile printing is a method of printing on fabric that changes according to processes, supports, effect and fabric. We start following the costume sketch. The dress can be fully ornated – the printed figure can cover the entire surface, repeating homogeneously the pattern – or can be partially decorated – on certain specific areas. The quality of a printed fabric is recognized by the absence of smear, the designs’ profile accurancy, the number of colors, the type of background textile. For hand techniques, the drawing is carved on wood block, mold or stencil templates.

STENCIL PRINTING

The stencil technique consists in obtaining a negative mask of the sketch to create the rigid original press. The same image is duplicated on a surface through the application of paint or other coloring material on the missing parts of the support. The pattern/figure/image is cut with a sharp-pointed knife; the uncut portions representing the part that will be left uncoloured. The sheet is laid on the fabric and colour is brushed through its interstices.

WORKING PHASES. STEP BY STEP

  • Duplicate the pattern on an acetate sheet and cut the edges with a cutter
  • Wash the fabric to remove the stiffener and iron to obtain a perfectly stretched surface
  • Place the pad in the right area of the dress, brush with the color the press/mask/pad surface (mind to keep it in vertical orientation to let the color glow in the interstices
  • Iron on reverse side of the textile several time, while pressing the drawing to fix the ink

THE FABRIC

The stencil press is an eccellent technique on the theatrical costume to suggest effects of original vintage prints or embroideries. Gauze, linen and canvas are the best, commonly used, for the technical adequacy and for the economic convenience. The woven structure of the gauze is a light and transparent, it has sparse weft. The huck lace requires some warp threads more taut, flanked by other more twisted and loose, which interlace, following a sinuous course. The result is a very open textile structure, “pierced”, but at the same time durable. It become thicker and stiff if dye or printed with many colors layers. The elegant lightness of Gauze makes it pleasant and can be used for spectacular scene elements: draperies, tablecloths and linings. In costume: stoles, scarves, skirts and women’s blouses. The “false gauze” is a variant, with a linear but sparse weave structure, used mainly to depict  bandages and rags.

The guinea linen is, instead, a raw cotton fabric, cream or white naturally colored, affordable  and good at absorbing colors of manually printed, for test- dress ( o do not waste the most expensive fabric. This is the reason while, in the vaste range of linen the tailor choose the most similar to the high quality selected fabric, in term of weight  and texture, folds and draping capacity. It exists in many types, 100% linen, with fine and sparse weft, or in the medium-heavy type. This type of cloth is very suitable to be printed because, when treated with the right colors and with appropriate designs, it simulates exhaustively precious vintage fabrics such as velvets or wools.

Read more about Stencil and Decoration of Theatre Costumes

Sculpture for the theatre set, from fiction to reality

From a mimesis space to an emotional space.

Definition  (CNRTL)

Illusion [As a principle of mistake in the sensitive field]

  • False perception insofar as it doesn’t match reality considered as objective, and which can be normal or not, natural or artificial.
  • In the theater, one plays on the proper qualities of human perception to translate and interpret, reconstruct what is seen through different filters.
  • The distance from the eye of the spectator, the games with light, the set space are the tools which allow the bulding of a new reality.

Role of the décor: to articulate the bodies in a credible and coherent space at the service of a dramaturgy, of an emotion.

This new dramaturgical space communicates with the imagination of the spectator rather than with its reason.

“La scénographie fait le choix de la forme et du lieu de représentation d’un récit, créant un espace de vie où tout est fictif, simulacre et éphémère (…). L’épure de l’abstraction a le pouvoir de faire naître des visions et leurs émotions au-delà de l’identification du réel, offrant le plaisir de voir autrement, car s’il n’y a rien à regarder, tout est à voir” Claude Lemaire
“Chercher ce qui, instictivement, est l’expression d’un sens” Yannis Kokkos

Hybrid spaces, the real is not represented litteraly anymore and one will try to compone pieces in between the illusion and the real. Some discrepancies to the real are permanently created, it coexists with abstraction.

Elements of the décor to create an illusion for the imagination.

Passing to emotion means that copies of the real are less and less present on stage and instead will be used imaginary elements. This is this imaginary universe the theatrical illusion has to make believable.
“Il s’agit de concevoir des espaces qui inquiètent l’imagination du spectateur pour la mettre en mouvement, la mettre au travail: c’est dans le regard du spectateur que s’achève mon travail” Marc Lainé
The have cut oneself out of the real doesn’t exempt the theater to make credible its own setting spaces: this this exactely the art of «scénographie», set designing.
Yannis Kokkos talks about “abstraction sensible et crédibilité poétique”: to make credible one thing that doesn’t exist, one has to provide it with consistency.

Read more about Illusion and décor

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Parisian ENSAAMA School of Applied Arts open its doors to a European Project

OmA is a leading partner in the European T.H.E.A.T.E.R. Erasmus+ project which organizes theatrical training workshops for young Italian, French and Bulgarian costume and set designers. The first encounter, aimed at creating eighteenth century prototypes, sewn, decorated and aged using non-conventional techniques, took place at the Pergola Theatre costume and scenery workshop in Florence in March 2017. The second stage of international mobility entitled “Sculpture in the Theatre: from fiction to reality”, took place at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués
et des Métiers d’Art of Paris, the third stage will take place in the summer of 2018 at the Academy Of Music Dance And Fine Arts of Plovdiv (Bulgaria) with a workshop focused on creations for the theatre using recycled material.

Read the full article here

Ageing techniques for theater costumes

THE AGEING OF THEATER COSTUME

MANUAL TECHNIQUES, ARTIFICIAL DEGRADATION AND SCENOGRAPHIC INTERVENTIONS

 

THE HISTORICAL COSTUME

It is essential for a costume designer who wants to follow directorial directions of a naturalistic and credible production to start with a historical – philological research prior to the creation of scenes and costumes. Usually, the authentic ancient costumes are not wear by actors because the risk of damage due to the actor’s movements is too high. Some very rare exception, nevertheless, are possible. The original dresses, however, are very precious for the costume designer because are an evidence, tangible examples of what needs to be recreated. In order to make contemporary costumes look older we adopt a series of procedures that donate the sought-after antique look to the costumes, giving them that dusty patina that is usually caused by wear and time

AGEING TECHNIQUES: BRUSH

An efficient system to get costumes dirty is by drawing patches and falsely worn spots: in this case we will use a dark gray paint or the same background color of the costume, in a darker/ lighter shade, to hide the details that are supposed to be worn. We use fabric colors, wood stain and wash resistant paint to create stains, rings, marks and patches of moisture and mold.

SEWING METHOD: TEAR AND DARN

An accelerated degradation technic, if we need to get the appearance of needy characters or tough jobs workers. A rip, a visible mend or a patch over the costume is sufficient to symbolize the poverty of the character and to underline the progress damages of a worn dress.

DISCOLORATION: BLEACHING AND FADING COLOURS

Faded colors are the most effective result to give the costume an ancient and dusty appearance; effect achieved removing chemically the original color from the fabrics, or by bleaching the brightness and saturation of the colors. The so-called aging processes on theatrical costumes’ surface could be more or less visible, depending on the stage lights. Whitish tone lights or fully enlightened costumes emphasize the effect.

“RUIN” THE COSTUME: STROKE AND UNSTITCH

To give a realistic look, we can materially “ruin” a costume. One of the faster systems to worn out textiles is to rub the garment with a cheese grater to turn strategic points (elbows, cuffs, back of the neckline, knees) looking like these would really be, after long time wearing. This technique works on common use fabrics such as velvet, wool, cotton, while it’s pointless on modern stretchy fabric or on the tulle of a tutu. A further touch of antiquity can be accomplished by pockets and hems partially unstitch (we talk about jackets, shirts, trousers and skirts).

NATURAL MATERIALS

An effective aging method, indicated above all for liners, is to wet garments with tea or coffee. The result is a yellowish opaque tint that improves the result in term of ageing appearance; the thin outer layer convert natural colors to a less bright white tone.

 

Find out more about the Ageing techniques for theater costumes