From the archives: This is from our original site, MyCityLife, posted back on 27 January 2015
A frock-fest to dazzle and delight: Boston Marriage takes centre stage this summer.
The first thing you’ll notice is the scent that fills the air; hot glue, freshly-pressed clothing, and a hint of musk that filters through each room despite the open windows and fresh summer breeze.
Doors lead into hallways which in turn lead to rooms full of clothing, props, and designs. Welcome to the Queensland Theatre Company, home to plays of comedies, classics, and new Australian work. The acclaimed wardrobe department operating behind the scenes of the most recent production, David Mamet’s Boston Marriage, have created yet another original array of costumes for the actors who will take to the stage in late January to kick start this year’s season of theatre.
During an exclusive “Behind-The-Seams” Tour, lovers of fashion, art, and theatre received the rare opportunity to view, first-hand, the newly finished garments for the upcoming production. Starring the talents of Helen Cassidy, Rachel Gordon, and Amanda Muggleton, this production promises to deliver humour, sarcasm, and ribald banter between the all-female cast while giving the audiences a “veritable frock-fest on stage”.
Under the guidance of Stephen Curtis, one of Australia’s leading stage and costume designers, the costume team has spent countless hours preparing custom made, period styled costumes crafted delicately to ensure both the comfort of the actors while maintaining the aesthetic of the early 1900’s American-Edwardian period.
“One of the things you’ll see is the incredible labour of love that the costume team bring to realising each part of the show,” Stephen claims. “The ultimate compliment is designing a costume that looks very simple.”
Simple is perhaps an understatement to describe the endless tables of fabrics, references, sketches, and measurements which the costume team carefully navigate and organise as they add the finishing touches to each of the designs. These finer details are usually what take the most time to complete, and are often where most of the hard work can unravel and demand a fresh start.
A fully constructed, custom-made period style corset is levels above what the average person can ever hope to create. Yet for the costume team operating on the designs for Boston Marriage, this article of clothing is only the first step; the keystone to a much larger, more elaborate outfit. On top of the initial designs, the costumes take countless hours to reach completion: from planning the idea, building a reference portfolio, sourcing the textiles, finding people with the experience and passion to execute the look, and then adding the finishing touches. This, of course, must happen before the actors can even think to begin rehearsing in the newly-completed designs. Future alterations are inevitable, as both the garments and the performers shift to suit the other, to bring life to the play.
As director, Andrea Moor uses her previous acting experiences and strengths to effectively mediate between the cast and the costume team. “If the corset changes slightly, it can cause a lot of grief,” she says knowingly. Andrea is all too aware that both the actors and the costumes must accommodate for one another in order to achieve a sense of reality, which is crucial in determining the overall success of the production. “If it’s not bringing life, it’s money and time not spent wisely,” Andrea says, who is quietly confident with what audiences can hope to expect from this two-hour comedic production. “Initially, I hope that when they sit down in their seats they won’t see the characters first but the set. I’m hoping that they will be excited and have a sense of anticipation, that they will want to be there, and then they will want to stay there and be continuously delighted by the theatre.”
Photo credit: Marc Casolani