Designing Costumes for “Blithe Spirit”

Costume Designs by John Woodland for Blithe Spirit
Woodland, John

John Woodland is an associate professor of Theatre and leads the Master of Fine Arts Costume Design program here at Wayne State University. His designs grace the stage at during the run of Blithe Spirit, at the Hilberry Theatre (September 20 through October 6, 2019).

As the costume designer, Woodland reads and analyzes the script, considers the location and style of the show, how each character will move and interact with others and the set, and how each evolves throughout the play before designing a single piece. 

He presents his ideas in the form of thumbnail sketches and will include color palettes and, often, fabric for consideration by the director. 

Once approved, he creates renderings, some of which are seen here, providing the creative team, including the director, scene designer, and lighting designer, with an understanding of palette and period so the full team can work together in the same visual world of the show.

The renderings are also used to guide the costume shop team as they pull and build each costumes, providing a visual reference for what each final piece will look like. 

Throughout rehearsals, the designer meets with cast members in the costume shop to conduct fittings, ensuring that each piece is custom fit to the actor. The designer makes adjustments at that time, depending on how the garments suit the actor and character and the actions that character engages in onstage. If a character engages in choreography or stage combat, the designer incorporates flexible fabrics into the costume to help the actor move freely on stage. 

And what you see at this performance is the culmination of weeks of intense work, artistry, and craftsmanship from dozens of faculty, staff, and students. But it all starts with an idea in the designer’s mind.

Wayne State offers a robust program in design and technology for both undergraduates and graduate students. Learn more at theatreanddance.wayne.edu.

Buy tickets to Blithe Spirit today for the best seats. It’s a hauntingly hilarious good time!

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