Costume Land! by Bonnie Juengert

     Trying on costumes is one of the most exciting parts of being in a show! Adults and children of all ages revel in the transformation that occurs when you put on that costume and become another character. Let me introduce you to the world of costumes at SCT.

One of three complete walls of double-hung costumes.

One of four walls completely covered by costumes!

     You may or may not know that most of the second floor of our building is dedicated to the construction and storage of costumes. We are very proud of our ever-growing collection of costumes, some donated, but most made right here in our shop! From three-piece suits to bunny suits, you’ll find just about everything you can think of in Costume Land, even a few things that defy explanation.

We're here for you, for all your scary clown needs.

Yeah…we’re not sure either.

     You also may or may not know that the entire costume process, from design to implementation to laundry, is run by volunteers. We are always looking for help! Knowing how to sew is a big plus, but you can help even if you don’t know how. Painting, hot gluing, beading, paper mâché, and many other crafty talents are needed, oh yes, and don’t forget cutting; both scissor and rotary skills! If you don’t feel comfortable cutting into cloth, we are also in need of assistance with our costume rental program. Sometimes we just need a team of people willing to sort and fold fabrics by color, or people who can help put every piece in the right place. 

A few of our round racks, filled to overflowing!

A few of our round racks, filled to overflowing!

     Consider joining us this season. Along with the thrill of creating part of the magic of the performance, you will not regret the camaraderie that develops over the course of a show, or many shows! While sewing and sorting, we laugh and talk, swap stories about our children and the tales they tell of late-night rehearsals. I have made life-long friends in Costume Land, and I hope to make many more.

     In just a few weeks we will be starting a volunteer project to organize and sort our growing costume stock. To prepare for this undertaking, we’re looking for a few items:

  • Hangers – all shapes and sizes (some department stores, like JC Penney, actually give them away!)
  • Clear Plastic Storage Bins – shoebox size or larger, with lids
  • Quality Safety Pins

      How do you get involved? Make sure you’re following SCT’s Facebook page for updates, and contact the office for a schedule of when our costume volunteers will be working. We’d love to see some new faces and welcome new ideas. See you soon!

Putting it Together, by David I.L. Poole

 (Read the first part of my design process here!)

      So did my design of the ape costume meet approval?  Yes, it did!  Artistic Director Kelie Miley loved it!

     The next phase of design is the actual implementation, which is where things can become a little tricky.  Transferring the costume from a drawing to the finished product is a process called “draping.”  Draping is a method of dressmaking in which fabric is pinned and hung on a mannequin form in order to create a pattern.  This is usually done with inexpensive fabric, like muslin, so there is no real loss if a mistake occurs.  This process is done with much trial and error, and there may be many drapings depending on the complexities of the garment.  Once a pattern is determined from the draping, then more expensive materials can be cut and sewn into a finished costume.

Draping and pinning one of 28 ape costumes!

Draping and pinning one of 28 ape costumes!

      One of the exciting materials being used is coming all the way from Hawaii!  We ordered traditional Tahitian bark skirts in a variety of colors.  These will be deconstructed and sewn onto the edges of the ape costumes to give a full fur look without it using actual fur, which is very expensive, heavy, and difficult to maintain.   The Tahitian bark will be used on principal characters, while we are using raffia that has been painted and dyed to costume members of the ape ensemble.  With 28 apes to costume, we aren’t just talking about small quantities here; we’re talking loads and loads of material!

A sea of raffia!

A sea of raffia, divided into baskets for each performer.

     After settling on the designs for the apes, the director also asked that I design tropical flower costumes that could bloom on stage, and a hybrid butterfly/puppet costume for some of the featured dancers.  I love these opportunities to create fantastical creatures!  That is why I love to volunteer at the Savannah Children’s Theatre where I have a place to let my imagination soar.

     Thanks to our army of volunteers, including Karen Clark, Pam Edenfield, Chann Givens,  Bonnie Juengert, and Marcia Karp, we are making quick progress.  Main Stage productions are a team effort, and our volunteers are the best in town!  We talk and laugh, sew and hot glue.  Spending time with these creative, talented minds makes the work go by so quickly.

     If you haven’t reserved your seats yet for TARZAN, do it now! Tickets are available on our website, or by calling the box office at 912.238.9015.  The next post you’ll see from me will show the finished product.  But trust me, you’ll want to see it on stage and in action!