I have a full compliment of budding costumers this year. Because the annual production is above and beyond my normal obligations as a teacher and lead instructor, I needed help. To find help, I developed an introduction to costuming class. To my surprise, I have nine enrolled students. They are a lively bunch full of creativity and good ideas. I am taking the best of what I have learned in professional theatre to them in hopes that they will catch the bug and let theatre be a part of their lives from this point on.
These students have begun to build a course website, Costume This with Ms. A., viewed the original screenplay of Our Town and experienced a remarkable paradigm shift in creativity after watching the documentary, OT: Our Town.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges in theatre is the human ego. We, cast, crew, and production staff are creatively driven peoples understanding that in our own way, acting, sewing, designing, producing, lighting, set design, etc., is performance. All of these separate components must come together into one unit, one success. Egos can make working toward that one unit and one success difficult at best, so I have begun the semester with team building activities.
Our first project was to make a costume accessory out of duct tape. Each student had the option of working independently or with another member of the class. Some worked together and some did not. They had approximately an hour and a half to design and construct an aesthetically pleasing and functional costume accessory. As they showed off their pieces, I began to ask them to think about how they got to their end result. I want them to focus on their process at this point more than their results. This will reveal problem solving skills and creativity required with tight theatre budgets and short lead time.
Inspired by the Duck Brand duct tape prom challenge, I challenged them to design, construct and create a garment in sixty minutes. Seven out of nine students were present to participate and here is their go-go girl result.
We discussed process. They had failures along the way, but worked well as a team to design and problem solve. Each student shared that they felt their ideas and contributions were valued by other members of the group. I was thrilled. This was both an academic and creative success. Students get all of the credit.