While the actors in the upcoming Otterbein Theatre production “The School for Scandal” are busy rehearsing their lines, the theater design and technology majors are showing off their skills through the costumes onstage.
“The School for Scandal” is a play that was first performed in 1777 on Drury Lane in London, England. The script as it will be performed at Otterbein was freely adapted by director Mark Mineart to be a considerable amount shorter and to take out racist content.
The play was chosen to be as much of an opportunity to show off for the costume department as for the onstage actors. Unlike in most productions the department puts on, every costume used in “The School for Scandal” is completely student made. In past productions the costumes have always been very modern, but for this production the department was going for historical accuracy.
With practically nonexistent side seams, hems that are different lengths, and more room in the butt of pants than we are used to today, the style of costume used two and a half centuries ago required lots of research by the costume department.
“We had to go back and look at research of how people would make these corsets and these dresses and jackets,” said junior theater design and technology major Thomas Martin. Martin is a draper for “The School for Scandal”. A draper is the highest student position you can receive with only three student drapers being assigned to this production.
The drapers got to make the costumes using high quality fabrics such as silk and taffeta. These fabrics catch the stage lighting much better than the typical polyester or nylon. The fabrics used are also two-tone fabrics, meaning that the fabric will look one color when folding a certain way and a different color when folding another way. The department used this to help with characterization. The “gossip” characters have their costumes made from this two-tone fabric to show that they are two-faced.
Besides what the actors are wearing, the costume department is also in charge of anything else that goes on their person, including their hair.
"The School for Scandal" features 21 different wigs of colors ranging in color from blonde and brown to pink and blue. It was accurate to the time period for men to also wear wigs, so for this show, almost every character has a wig. The pink and blue wigs compliment both the characters' personalities and costumes.
All 21 wigs are hand-styled and cared for each night. The show has a designated crew member that is in charge of re-styling the wigs, whether that is respraying them to make them smooth and shiny or making sure the curls are re-rolled.
The wigs were styled by Costume Designer Rebecca White.
“The School for Scandal” revolves around the gossip scene in 1777 London, where the newspaper industry is just beginning. Two brothers’ trustworthiness is tested by their wealthy uncle while subplots run rampant and laughs are at every turn. “The School for Scandal” is often considered one of the best comedy of manners plays.
“The School for Scandal” opens Thursday night at 7:30. Performances will air again multiple times over the next week.
Edited by Marlie Griffith