Creating the Costumes
After Sorcha had designed the costumes for our two difficult characters, I was set the task to create them. With Sorcha’s costume I decided to use a base dress in which I could sew the outer character onto. Therefore I decided to buy a body con dress in which I could sew the yellow contrasting dress onto. I firstly had to cut the yellow dress in half to sewing around the black body con. Sewing the dress on prove difficult as the material was different lengths to the base piece. Therefore I had to cut both materials to create the one whole new outfit. On the left hand side (neat side), I tidied the outfit up so from the first scene the audience would expect to see a girl partying in a night club as they could only see that side of her. Although when she faced the audience, the spectators could see the difference which conveys she was two people. To help emphasize that she was lost within cyber space, I added makeup and back comb hair as though she was lost and un-functional. Altogether, spectators were intrigued by Sorcha’s costume as they wondered why she looked disorientated.
The hardest costume that I had to create was Dumi’s ‘system’ costume. This involved buying all the props and accessories to add onto a plain black outfit. Therefore I was unable to construct the outfit until the day. I decided to buy, coloured thread, glow sticks and fairy lights to create the electric persona. This represented the system which was influenced by Stelarc’s cyber performance. Therefore, on the day of the performance I tacked all the accessories onto the base before the performance. This provided difficult as I didn’t want to snap the glow sticks until the piece began as I wanted them to last glowing. It also provided difficult as Dumi was unable to move through the space properly because the accessories began to fall off with movement. We overcome this by basing him in the room so he was ready in position. Although Dumi’s costume was hard to construct, audience members reflected how impressive the outcome was. People commented that they understood he was the system by all the glowing and wires attached. It was clear that Dumi was representing an internet source, as he looked as though he was covered by cables and electronic devices.
Although I found creating the costumes a challenge, I enjoyed piecing together the costumes as I like to experiment with costume elements. I also feel that both costumes represented their characters. I knew their characters maybe hard to portray as they were fictional but careful planning and designing made our costumes accurate.
By Christie Asplin.
When designing the costume for Dumi’s character THE SYSTEM I really enjoyed exploring my imagination. My intention was to design a costume to visually represent that his character was hacked by the Administrator (Jamie) that he was completly fused with the network. I was inspired by Jo Mielziner, a set designer I had been writing about for my dissertation. Mielziner “explored ways in which scenography and text could be interdependent” (McKinney and Butterworth 2009, p.83) and the creation of his designs “involved close working relationships in which practical staging solutions and evocative scenographic environments emerged from the themes and images of the play text” (McKinney and Butterworth 2009, p.83). Mielziner was a strong influence because his designs supported the narrative of the play by fusing the text with the visual elements and also because he was collaborative in his approach. As our theatre company worked as a collaboration and we wanted a strong aesthetic for our performance I decided to adopt this approach so, like Mielziner’s set designs my costume ideas would allow “the words to resonate and take on additional layers of meaning” (McKinney and Butterworth 2009, p.83).
As THE SYSTEM was so fused with the network Dumi did not appear in the basement at the end of our performance, which represented reality. This was a positive aspect because it meant I could design a costume that did not need to be removed quickly for a costume change at the end of our performance (the female characters had a quick change from the main floor to the basement). Myself and Christy decided that Dumi’s costume could be made on the day and we could sew him into it, so he would wear it as a one- off creation.
I took inspiration from a number of sources when creating the costume for THE STYSTEM, particuarly cyborgs, multi media work I had researched and futuristic films. The work of Stelarc and Blast Theory caught my attention when designing mine and Dumi’s costumes. I was intrigued by Stelarc’s belief that technological advances have convinced him that the body has been made redundant and how “in practice he has demonstrated this shift towards artificial intellegence, cyborgs, robots and advanced prosthetics through performance projects that include the attatchement of a robotic arm to his body to make a third hand, and the connection of his body to the internet” (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.71). Furthermore, THE SYSTEM consited of robotic, jerky movements and this reminded me of Stelarc’s Muscle Stimulator System in which electrical charges serged through his body, caused by spectators “moving him electroinically via the internet” (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.71) ensuring his movements became a “disjointed jumpy dance of his wired-up limbs” (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.71). Blast Theory’s Can You See Me Now? also inspired my costume ideas. This piece “is a game that happens simultaneously online and on the streets. Players from anywhere in the world can play online in a virtual city against members of Blast Theory. Tracked by satellites, Blast Theory’s runners appear online next to your player on a map of the city. On the streets, handheld computers showing the positions of online players guide the runners in tracking you down” (Anon, online, 2012). The costumes worn by the runners consisted of black items with pockets for devices such as walkie talkies and I was inspired by how simple and practical they were, whilst allowing for the technology to speak for itself.
I find images useful when sketching costumes because they remind me not to limit my imagaintion, and I would rather reign my ideas in having explored a variety of possibilities, as I believe the end result is more imaginative and interesting. The images and websites that have influenced my design for both Dumi’s costume and my own include:
I also found the shop Cyberdog very influential as they have futuristic outfits that inspired the style I was creating: http://www.cyberdog.net/
The main difficulty that arouse when creating THE SYSTEM’s costume was that Dumi needed to be able to move from the Junk Mail Box Room to the Main Floor as well as lift each female character and take her off stage. As I planned to use fairy lights, these had to be unplugged from the Junk Mail Box Room and the plugs at the end would be tucked into leg warmers. This overcame any health and safety issues such as tripping up on the leads or any possible electrocution. This was important to consider because we used water on the Main Floor during the deactivation sequence. Below is my final sketch for THE SYSTEM’s costume:
As you can see features of the costume included:
– U.V coding on the part of the face
– U.V grid on part of the face to link with the tape grids on the floor of the Main Room and our poster designs
– Googles or sunglassss outlines in U.V paint
– Glow sticks over the heart to show THE SYSTEM is a fusion of person and technology
– Glow stick cuffs on the wrists
– Glow stick suit
– Coloured scoobies hanging from the spine to represent wires (which were more expensive)
– U.V coding on the hands so any skin showing was covered with coding
– Fairy lights and garden wire around the legs
– Black leg warmers to hide the plugs
– Bare feet with U.V coding on.
Although on the performance day we did not exactly follow this costume design, we still included all the elements such as wires, lights and glow sticks and our audience were impressed. I think Dumi’s costume was particaurly effective in the Junk Mail Box Room because that was when Dumi was first seen as he was plugged in and had the surrounding lights in the room on so it created a strong visual image for our audience.
I used the same images when designing my costume for the character Unkown User/ Jane Smith. With this outfit my intention was to show that I had been hacked by the administrator and that I was stuck between being fully emerged into the network and still trying to find my way into it. I therefore wanted to juxtapose the innocence of my character as she wants to be a part of the network, with the clothing worn by THE SYSTEM to show aesthetically that she had been hacked. The costume I designed was based upon the idea of splitting the costume in half and on the dress made by Christy:
The main features of this design include:
– One side of the hair crimped with facebook- blue streaks to emphasis the facebook hack and one side in an innocent plait, which is later undone
– Neat make up on one side of the face with U.V coding on the other
– U.V coding on one arm with jewellery on the other
– One side of the dress has U.V paint and the other is an innocent yellow
– The neat side has a heel and the other foot is bare, apart from possibly a long sock with U.V paint on it.
Again, we did not stick exactly with this design for the final show however the costume was still successful as we showed the juxtaposistion. It was particuarly effective in the first scene as I walked down the stairs and the audience could only see the innocent side, I then became visible in full view and the audience could see the full effect of the hacking.
Anon, online http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/bt/work_cysmn.html [date accessed: 18.05.2012]
Allain, Paul and Jen Harvie (2006) The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance, Oxon: Routledge
McKinney, Joslin and Philip Butterworth (2009) The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press
By Sorcha Rattigan.