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A few costumes from one of our hires! We supply lots of flapper style dresses in each hire that can be dressed up (for evening / glam look) or down (day dress) as you like! Some dresses lean towards glam and a few are most definitely more useful for the showgirls’ day dresses in the scene where they’re leaving Fat Sam’s place. Lots more photos on the gallery pages.

Offbeat Theatre costumes for Bugsy Malone

Go the extra mile - whatever it takes!

Go the extra mile – make your ideas BIG and BOLD (orange is optional)

Never be complacent with your achievements. One of the many beautiful things about theatre is that we always have the next show to work on – we’re never stuck in one place. We live in a sea of constantly changing requirements, ideas and possibilities. And the next show will be so different to the last …. To each new project you take the experience and the lessons from the last. If you’re on the case you will always improve and the process of creating theatre will be a wonderful experience each time. Continue Reading…

Treading your Own Pathway

Barbara —  April 18, 2014 — 3 Comments

A Mad Tea Party by John Tenniel.  Try and find your way to at least one ..

A Mad Tea Party by John Tenniel. Try and find your way to at least one of these each week

Lately I’ve been reviewing (in my head) the nature of creativity and imagination and the ways in which our society supports and/or controls it. In our world of tick boxes, targets and constant exams to measure your worth against rigid criteria, it is no surprise that true creativity is not always encouraged and it is certainly not widely understood. To make life easier for those who shepherd us through the educational system we have to conform to a range that, I’m guessing, is deemed to be ‘normal’. I have many friends who are teachers and they are just as disillusioned with a system that does not allow too much quality interaction and creative activities are often put on the backburner while ‘improving results’ becomes the focus of their valuable time with their students. I know this is a HUGE generalisation and not everyone fits into the box (thank goodness!). There are many sides and stories to this debate, but I’ll just share a few thoughts with you if I may .. Continue Reading…

People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.

Andrew Carnegie on Mediocrity

The Wheelie Set

Barbara —  March 28, 2014 — Leave a comment
The whole set - everything else is on wheels!

The whole set – everything else is on wheels!

So you have a big cast and a play with LOADS of different locations – any one of which would be a challenge to stage. I directed Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wyrd Sisters’ a few years back and had just that scenario. I’ve said it before .. I will do anything to avoid a scene change. That moment when people dressed in black come on and remove things and/or add things just kills it for me. So we have ‘the blasted heath’, a road somewhere, a theatre, Nanny Ogg’s kitchen, a dungeon with instruments of torure, the throne room, a garden/wood and many other locations that are only required for an odd minute here and there. Of course you’re not going to build up each location and remove it afterwards – it would take all night. But how can you do it quickly, convincingly and creatively? Continue Reading…

The set (and costumes/lights) for 'After Juliet'. by Sharman Macdonald. Rich colours and fabrics, moody lights. Beautiful.

The set (and costumes/lights) for ‘After Juliet’. by Sharman Macdonald. Rich colours and fabrics, moody lights. Beautiful.

This was a fantastic set to work on. After Juliet is a moody, brooding beast of a one act play set just after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. It deals with the anger, pain and frustration of Romeo and Juliet’s family and friends as they wallow in the aftermath of the tragedy. It’s dark, hot, stuffy, moody and dramatic. The set, costumes and lighting had to reflect that. It is also set within the homes of various families and friends and also, crucially, in a central meeting place – a place for romance, friendship and fighting. We wanted a multipurpose set where homes were overlooking the meeting place – the plaza. We wanted different levels, colours, hiding places, narrow alleyways. We absolutely did not want a single set change to interrupt the action (actually, I never do). Enter scaffolding towers. Continue Reading…

Dramatic Dress Time

Barbara —  March 27, 2014 — Leave a comment
Don't skimp on costumes - they matter!

Don’t skimp on costumes – they matter!

This is my idea of a dramatic dress! I just love to take an existing plain dress and make something completely different and rather unusual out of it. I confess, I’m not much good making clothes from patterns. In fact, that’s an understatement – I’m a non-starter. But if I have an item of clothing to begin with I can happily cut, sew, glue, spray and staple my way to something that would look fab on stage. This one rook me ages, but I loved it.

A long black dress with big puffy short sleeves (ball gown)
A variety of patterned red material
Mixed gold / red braid
Red velevt for ‘overdress / robe’
Gold and copper 3D fabric paint
Gold chains and jewellery

To cover the arms I used a pair of red tights worn as a top (cut a hole in the gusset – brilliant for punky looks)

To get the effect on the front of the dress I cut out pieces of red material and glued or sewed them to the dress. The braid weaved its way in-between the patches. The result was rather stunning and there wasn’t much of the black dress showing at the front. The overdress/robe added an extra layer of richness to the outfit and meant I didn’t have to cover the whole of the dress with the red material.
I left the sleeves black, but lined the edges with the copper and gold 3D paint.
The chains and jewellery added more glitz to and already scene-stealing costume.
One of my favourites without a doubt.

Yes, it is for hire!

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.

G K Chesterton on Fairy Tales

Ghosts on Stage

Barbara —  February 28, 2014 — Leave a comment
One of my favourite ghosts from 'Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost'. You can probably tell which one is the ghost (if you can't my costume design has failed)

One of my favourite ghosts from ‘Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost’. You can probably tell which one is the ghost (if you can’t my costume design has failed)

What is it about ghosts? Why are they so fascinating on stage? Personally, I just love the murky, shady world of the unknowable land of the dead. Putting them on stage is a challenge I relish. They crop up rather a lot in my plays as well, so that’s just as well really. Ghosts, it could be said, are neither in the land of the living nor the dead. The apparition/ghost/shade hovers between two worlds. When conditions are right we can see from one place to another – a glimpse into the land of the dead from the land of the living. It’s what All Hallow’s Eve is all about – the veil is thin .. the dead can arise and be seen. In could also be said that that’s a load of twaddle, but each to their own fantasy I say. I have no idea what ghosts are, if indeed they are anything at all. But I love to play with the idea of a ghost, the idea of a place that does not comply with the rules of our living reality. What makes ghosts and the ghostly realms they inhabit so fascinating is the fact that once upon a time these ghosts were living people. So, unlike the land of faery (another favourite) we have a strong connection to ghosts – they used to be one of us. Continue Reading…

Happy Zombies!

Happy Zombies!

Sometimes called ‘Paranoia’ (and possibly other things), but we prefer the Zombies tag. Some games are just designed to get you physically moving, laughing and engaged with your fellow actors. This game has the added bonus of requiring that you know everyone’s name.

So, a good game to play if the group needs to get acquainted and if they are feeling a little lethargic at the beginning of a rehearsal. Instead of actual names you could use character names as well – that gets them thinking!

How to play
Choose a zombie to start. They cannot run (zombies always stagger with outstretched arms – everyone knows that), but they can walk pretty fast. The zombie starts heading to an unsuspecting victim and one touch from the zombie and you’re dead (or out – same thing really). You could work some theatrical deaths in though – that always goes down well. Before the zombie reaches you, you can save yourself by either getting out the way (doesn’t always work) OR shouting out someone else’s name. That person then becomes the zombie and the orginal zombie is released from the terrible zombie curse. People usually get caught out at this changeover moment. You think you’re safe, but then the pursued person calls out the name of the person standing next to you! Yikes! And so it goes on. Simple but fun and everyone gets moving! If you panic and can’t remember a name chances are the zombie will get you …..

Towards the end it gets very difficult to catch anyone, so you can always bring in extra rules. No running at all, smaller area to work in, pursued people can only hop – that sort of thing.