Learning about the backstage magic is as much fun as watching the plays. When the stage technicians magically transformed the stage from the Victorian sitting rooms of Sense and Sensibility to the wild forest of In the Woods, their choreographed movements could have been a ballet. Costumes in a play are often the tools to help the performers find their characters. Padding can transform a skinny hero into a Prince and a beautiful girl into a witch with saggy breasts. The Shakespeare Festival costume designer displayed costumes from the plays, revealing some secrets of those twenty second costume changes.
“What God’s forgotten, we stuff with cotton…”
A good friend, a talented designer and seamstress, volunteers for a local regional theater in Hawaii, and has occasionally invited me to sew on random name tags. She would be gratified to know that her experience backstage mirrors larger, professional companies: both take measurements of each performer customizing the costume to fit, and both will often frantically work up to the opening night curtain.