Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The final production meeting - before hand in

Oliver and myself had set up a meeting with Ken, our director, John, our AUCB production manager, and Pete Cliffton, our lighting designer. This has been the first meeting that has had all of us, and now with the finished designs, it was set to be a fairy tense moment - with a week left till hand in and so much work and change already up to this point there was always the worry that something would be deemed wrong and need changing.

Thankfully, everything went tremendously well. John has now set with us that he will want to at the very least cost up the set at the begining of January, and is confident that if the costumes require more budget if it can be saved on set then it can easily be transfered into the costume budget. Pete and Ken have both approved, and love, the costume designs which is a great relief and a joy. I had not expected the joy allongside the relief that they enjoy the costume designs. Again, as I have said before, I think that when you have put so much time and energy into a production in any capacity it is impossible not to become emotionally attached to it.

Now to do

The final three sets of designs + the reworking of Titania
Organising, tidying and binding my sketchbook
My final 500 word evaluation

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Final Push continues

The designs keep on coming but I am meeting the challenge! With 37/8 character designs to hand in, with 6 days until the final deadline, it is all go from here. Thankfully I have progressed the majority of my designs to the point where they do not need to be altered further, however a couple I have had to change, specifically Lysander and Demetrius from act 3, the final scene with them before the lovers are discovered. Origionally, after speaking with our director Kenneth, I had planned on them to, like the ladies, be in their undergarments. However on research I discovered that in the 1970's, the most common underwear worn was in fact y-fronts, boxers not coming in until the 80's/90's and long johns only being worn by the more elderly gentleman.
This being the case, while I did initially design for both to be in y-fronts, due to the physical nature of the performance and being unable to ask the actors if they would be comfortable with the risk involved by the unstable nature of the costume, I have done a secondary set of designs for this scene for submission, being the two in an even more broken down form of their costumes, with y-fronts being worn underneath. That way if the actors feel comfortable enough to strip down to their more period specific underwear they will be able to.
With the constantly evolving and changing nature of this project in terms of designs, today I have had to make some changes on my origionally submitted work plan. Looking back to my work plan, I scheduled in a lot of fabric sourcing trips and experimentation sessions - however, the designs being so much in flux I was unable to fabric source as many times as I origionally planned due to not having a concrete set of designs to source from and spending my time working on the designs themselves. This is something that will I imagine always be an issue to a degree with such swiftly changing projects, however due to past experience I believe that on this project the speed with which the changes have occurred have been abnormaly swift and radical.
However this has also made this project an incredible experience in terms of expanding my creative flexibility and getting me to research from such a wide variety of subjects for a single project, and in considering things that I have not had to factor in on any projects so far such as the racism issue with the Indian influence in the costumes, and nudity in terms of the fairies and the lovers.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Designs - The first selection of Finals!

Due to an error in communication, I believed that I needed to have a selection of my final designs completed for the begining of this week. On discovering that this was not in fact the case I have been left with a handful of designs that are actually ready for submission. Details may change, but here is a taster of some of the designs as they stand.
Theseus and Hippolyta Act 1 Scene 1 - the Tango!

Hermia and Helena, Act 3 scene 2 as they are fighting in the forest
Titania, Queen of the fairies - not decided if this is her final design but it shall change very little if it changes at all


And lastly, we have the Mechanicals as fairies - there are two layers to these costumes, the under layer, predominently blue, was designed by Oliver Barker, who is designing for the Mechanicals - all except for when they are fairies. After discussing these characters with Kenneth, our director, as they are double cast for the purpose of in the text when they are 'recognised' by Bottom. Therefore we have shown this by having there base costumes visible, but altered. I have hiked up all there trouser legs and rolled up their sleeves, given them 'henna' tatoo's to fit with the other fairies and overlayered them with 'fairy' garments being highly textured, and patterned with leaves printed on and worked into the fabric to mimic the other fairies costumes.

The rest of the designs are still being fully finished and rendered, but this is a taster for you of what is to come!
Overall I am proud of the designs that I have created in collabouration with Oliver and Kenneth/ It has definitely been a learning curve with so many factions having input on the costumes and finding my own voice to fit with that but thankfully due to my previous work I believe I have managed to present myself well and come through this collabouration - so far at least - with a set of designs that meets everyone as much as they can without losing the voice of the character and Kenneths vision of the piece.

Monday, 19 November 2012

43 Designs in 3 Days?!

No, this was not possible. As it turns out, this was also not necessary! Due to a misscommunication, I believed that for today I needed to formally present my designs. On collating my timeline and cast list I realised that personally I am designing 43 costumes! Believing that I had to have all my finished designs done for Monday, I began the mamoth task of creating and polishing my designs to a standard that I could be proud of.
By early yesterday night I had just over 20 and was still going strong when the information filtered through the costume grape vine to me - wires had been crossed. I did not have to have all my designs done for today. The presentations were, in fact, to practice our presentation technique for our assessed presentation at hand in - two weeks away.
But, as a result of this I now have just over 20 designs, some that still need some minor tweaking but all that are up to a standard that I would be proud to submit. This has also taught me that if I am willing to go without sleep, I can accomplish an extraordinary amount in a short amount of time.
A good thing to learn today, from our visiting lecturer Gareth, was that my presentation technique has dramatically improved since the beginning of this term. I am putting this improvement squarely on the amount of meetings and mini-presentations I have had to do - very often on the spot - to Gareth, Oliver, Kenneth and even our head of course Rebecca Pride, often with little or no warning as they are walking through the studio's.
This has also taught me that no matter how far you think you are through, there is always more to do so - onwards!

Friday, 16 November 2012

The ever changing fairies

In my last meeting with Gareth, I decided to bring in three strong options based on our previous tutorials to how the fairies could look.
Yesterday was the big decision meeting to decide which one would be progressed! The one that Gareth chose was a very naturalistic view, tan coloured with long flared trousers, Oberon bare chested and Titania in a crop top.
Today I saw Kenneth, our director, on a query about the Mechanicals doubling as fairies, as I am designing there costumes as fairies, and he brought up Oberon and Titania. On seeing the designs, he did not like them as he found them too real, too much like ordinary western people. I had worried previously that in making them too much like real people of the 1970's that we were straying too far from the original concept, and this confirmed my fears. However, on discussing them further with Kenneth I realised that I had come up with something similar to what he wanted earlier in the design process about two weeks ago. After speaking with Kenneth this time, I think due to the amount of meetings we have had in the past we came up with a very clear idea of the concept and the feeling the designs should have, and I have come away with a much better idea of what will fit Kenneths vision of the piece.
On this decision I went to speak to my head tutor and year group leader Rebecca. As I had been in tutorials with Gareth with an opposing decision made just the day before I did not want it to appear as if I was ignoring the direction that I had been given by my tutors, however if I did not follow the director's view and vision of the piece then I would be failing not just the brief but the production itself. On discussion with Rebecca we agreed that I would need to defer to Kenneths vision of the performance over the guidance by Gareth, but that I would try to incorporate, if possible, aspects of the previous design, if only in terms of colour scheme.
I am now set to reconcile the two designs.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

To London!

The grand fabric sourcing trip to London! An incredible day hurting the fabric shops with collabourating designer Oliver Barker, this had helped me tremendously. Sourcing for two sets of characters, with one having three different current incarnations, was at times verging on muddling but I had a couple of fantastic finds that I am very keen to use. I like fabric sourcing generally earlier in the process, even preliminary fabric sourcing just because it can do so much to inform the designs, and this time was no exception.
With a bag full of samples I have now got a much clearer idea of what the finished garments might look like. I will have to go back to London for some more sourcing but on the whole I believe I now have the bulk of what I need. A few of my samples came from higher end shops in Soho that unfortunately will not fit the budget at all, however with a clear sample of the fabrics that I want an alternative more fitting the budget can be sourced.
My favourite find has been this ;
A gorgous practically transparent fabric full of oranges, reds and blues that is covered in indian patterns that because of there translucence and size do not make the fabric look too busy, and with the colours and way the patterns have been place look very seventies psychadelic. I love the subtle but striking effect of the fabric over skin.

Fabric on skin to show how well the pattern shows up against skin as a background.
however what I feel makes this fabric incredibly exciting is when it is put over the red fabric I want to use on one of the Titania designs.
It is subtle but at the same time makes what is otherwise a beautiful draping bold red fabric have an edge, a subtle sheening pattern of colours that shift and change with movement as the light shifts and picks out different colours, and gives it an exciting mysterious quality.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The final countdown - 3 designs

Today I was struck with a quandary. I have progressed through the concept to two different designs, both fitting with the concept and our directors vision of the piece.
I was called in by guest tutor Gareth who has asked me to bring him in a very specific design on Monday, based on some research he sent me, but that I had used to inform my other designs. While I liked the idea's that he included in what he was asking me for, I have not progressed to this, and and I am not sure if it fits with our directors vision of the play or entirely with our concept as it has progressed.
Therefore with yet another change presented to me, and with three weeks remaining until the final hand in, I am taking the advice that Gareth gave myself and Oliver in the first week. When faced with a set of characters that is being continually changed, put down strong options, and ask for a decision. I feel this is incredibly important this late in the design process as with such a short amount of time left I have spent the majority of my time and energies on the fairy designs and while I want them to be the best they can be, I do not want my Athenians to suffer from lack of attention.
Also the worry is that if I do not get the look of the fairy's pinned down to one set of designs that they will continue to be changed right up until the deadline and beyond, to the detriment of both the costumes, concept and characterisation.
Therefore I have requested a meeting with all my tutors on Monday with Oliver so that I can present them with the two options that I have progressed to and the design Gareth has requested so that I can finally get clear decision on where to take them.
I think that is one of the things that can make it difficult to be a student designer. When you are in industry you answer primarily to the Director and the production manager, and if you have one your collaborating designer. When you are a student director, you answer not just to them but to any and all tutors that you have who are informing and grading your work. It can therefore be difficult with so many people having creative input to create a design that will please everybody.
This is what I seek to do, I will not allow myself in the process to lose sight of the concept and our directors vision of the piece.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Post Battle - onto the war

A fairly dramatic title but unfortunately accurate. After battling the flu the last few days, I am back on my campaign to get A Midsummer Nights Dream to live up to its pottential. There has, however, been another issue thrown in to think about. While the Athenians, the Mechanicals and the set are all coming allong and progressing beautifully, an issue has been highlighted in a recent tutorial with guest tutor Gareth with the fairies that parallels a similar issue the recent AUCB production faced when the design concept was brough into question during the design stage - namely, how to avoid the issue of racism with the Indian influenced fairies in a predominantly white cast.
Thanks to this I have been looking more at Ashram culture in the 70's and the western migration to India. This has let me to a more cohesive look with the fairies that I hope will negate the racism issue, while still holding to the Indian influence that Ken hoped for. The only issue I can see is they have moved slightly further away from appearing otherworldly. This could be a problem but I hope I have left enough of a strangeness - beyond the realm of normalcy - that this air of magic has been preserved.
There is one aspect of the characterisation in costume that has emerged that I feel fits wonderfully in terms of them being a blend of Greek left-wing rebels and magical beings recently from India - dreadlocks. Initially I was not sure if this would work as the characters of the fairies have not - to my knowledge - been portrayed this way before, but the more I thought about it and sketched, the more it makes sense. They are fairies, they are rebellious and outside any form of human society, why should they try and be neat barring there own vanity? In my interpretation they have dreadlocks, interwoven with leaves and flowers and gold decorations, things they have picked up and fancied for themseles. Titania has a head piece that goes with this - a gold stylised peacock feather with a jewel for the 'eye' of the feather. The gold in this also picks up the gold of the gold henna I have used on the skin of both Oberon and Puck, as I feel not only will this beautifully contrast with the skin of the actors but also highlight the majesty and otherworldliness of the characters.
Now that these have truly started to come together I can start on the fairy dancers. After consulting with Kenneth our director it has been agreed that as I had hoped the ASM's who are being fairy dancers will remain as fairies for the duration of the performance.
There is a specific reason that I wanted this. The AMS's will be visible on stage at various points in the production moving props and set pieces, changing the worlds from Athens to the fairy wood and back, though not all the way, and it struck me that this is what the fairies do. They invade the human world and set about changing things, altering and creating havoc and mischief. On explaining my reasoning to Kenneth he agreed that this was a good idea and made a lot of sense, so I now have four fairy ASM's to make into fairies.