We chatted to our amazing costume team to chat about being back in the building, their designs for Sadie and where they get their inspiration!
How does it feel to be back in the building?
When we came back in November last year we felt like we had never been away…except we had forgotten all our passwords and extension number! The building has only a skeleton staff at the moment so it’s very quiet without the buzz of the café bar and so many of our colleagues at home so that we only get to all be together again in Zoom meetings. We can’t wait for the day when the public spaces come back to life!
What is the process you go through when approaching the design process?
The very first thing to do is read the script…and then read it again! We are a good team and have opinions and impressions that often complement each other well. What’s interesting working as a duo from two separate generations is we have different perspectives which offers us a much wider scope for inspiration. This is very valuable for a play like Sadie which straddles a few decades. After we have talked through our initial ideas of characters we usually split off and take half a set of characters each and begin the research process.
Where did your inspiration come from?
For Sadie we did a lot of research online, particularly for Red and Clark, we found some great archive images from news reports from the 90’s and looked at old family photos. The piece depicts real people, folk you could pass on the street every day, so we also drew on people we knew from our own lives and even some we saw going about their business in Tesco! The most vital element for us was that these characters were rooted in reality and recognisable but not a parody of well-worn Belfast stereotypes.
What is the biggest challenge you faced?
Trying to costume a show during a pandemic when you can’t get out to source in the shops proved a bit challenging despite how vast online retail is. For a show like this Sadie we would have loved to cruise around the shops and get inspired by what we found. We did had a few dodgy purchases from the internet that were not as described! You have to be fairly sure of your design decisions being able to pop out to pick up something up last minute was out of the question. Working within Covid restrictions also meant we were separate from the cast for the first few weeks which was tricky as we had never met some of them. This was quite a challenge making it hard to judge sizes and meant we had to guide them through taking their own measurements over Zoom which was a first!
What character was your favourite to design?
Gillian: It is always so hard to choose as each character has their own individuality and I enjoyed the design process for all of them. But if I had to choose it would be Red and Clark, they were a challenge in that they had to be reflective of the early 90s in Belfast but in not such an obvious way. We are also purists when it comes to getting clothes from another decade and I am never happier when I outbid someone on Ebay for an original 1992 Fila top.
Erin: Creating the look for Mairead the therapist was a highlight for me because she felt like the most redemptive character of the piece. Choosing to put her in light, soothing colours and soft fabrics with a leaf motif in her jewellery felt symbolic of the light, positive growth and hope that a therapist can bring to the darkest situations. The audience may only pick up on these details subconsciously but it’s a joy to weave a narrative into the costumes.