All posts tagged: Home: Scottish Songs in a New Zealand War

Balancing accuracy and practicality in theatre: Johnnie’s uniform

As a historic costumer, every project is a balance between complete historical accuracy, and the demands of the modern world. Should I spend a fortune on period fabric, even if the fabric would have been the cheapest, lowest fabric at the time, but is now prohibitively expensive?  How do I do the work accurately, without devoting too much of my life to it?  What if the fabric literally doesn’t exist anymore? When you add the element of theatre, the demands increase.  As Mrs C has pointed out, theatre costumes are usually done on a budget, and a time budget.   Theatre often involves quick changes, and it is all done under stage lights, which are very warm.  So not only do costumes need to be as light as possible, but even then, actors sweat in them.  And they roll around onstage and get into fights and carry props and generally get dirty.  And theatre shows generally don’t have the budget and time for drycleaning.  So theatre costumes need to be washable. All of these applied …

Maggie & Johnnie dressed up

I’ve shown you a bit of Maggie’s costume on the dressform, but of course you are still waiting to see it on a person, and to see Johnnie’s uniform. Here are the very talented Rowena and Stuart in their costumes as Maggie (as a maid, and then a rural wife) and Johnnie (as a gunner in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, the Wellington Infantry Battalion ) pre-dress rehearsal for  Home. Maggie starts out the show as a domestic servant (in huge demand in early 20th century New Zealand). Then she meets Johnnie, but 1914 comes, and he goes off to war: Later in the show Maggie gets to take off her apron and be a rural housewife.  Isn’t Rowena just adorable? Home has just finished up its run in Hamilton, and is off to Auckland for a few shows.  Do make an effort to see it if you can, it’s so sweet (and starts with Mairi’s Wedding, so I was always going to love it), and such a fascinating glimpse into a really important period …

The Home Show: Maggie’s outfit

I’ve just finished a charming commission: costumes for a piece of musical theatre called Home: Weaving Scottish Songs into a New Zealand War The show tells the story of two Scottish immigrants, Maggie and Johnnie, over the course of World War I, through traditional Scottish folk songs. And best of all, for me, they wanted reasonably historically accurate costumes! Here is a sneak peek at Maggie’s costume: My design sketch: And the reality: I’ll post about the costume in detail in a few days.  And show you Johnnies costume! If you are in Hamilton, Auckland or Waipu over the next week do go see the show: Hamilton Garden Arts Festival (English Flower Garden) Mon 20, Tues 21, Wed 22 February at 6pm Titirangi Theatre, Lopdell House, 418 Titirangi Road, Auckland Fri 24, Sat 25 February at 8pm Waipu Coronation Hall, 47 The Centre, Waipu Sun 26 February at 4pm