Today we’re celebrating our brilliant costume department team on Costume Professionals Appreciation Day 2019 as they feverishly prepare for the opening of our next production Tree which runs from 29 July.
We sat down with Catherine Kodicek (Head of Costume), Kinnetia Isidore (Deputy Head of Costume), and Rebecca Barnett (Waredrobe Manager) to find out more about what it’s like to work as costume professional at the Young Vic.
What is it like to work in a costume department?
K: Every day is different, it’s a bit like going on a mad adventure with a team of people with different skills all working towards a shared goal.
C: It is very satisfying to work in costume. The hours can be long and you lose a lot of your evenings but the sense of camaraderie and teamwork is so rewarding. Also, the work is exciting, choosing the right costume, finding the right fabric, searching for the right vintage piece, nailing a quick change, restoring a costume to perfection night after night, there are so many different aspects to the costume world it is an unconventional ‘day to day’.
I can get really excited about finding the perfect button or the exact garment because I know that these elements will enhance the whole production. And whether the piece is going to challenge the audience’s opinions and assumptions or make them laugh or give them a much-needed escape, the costumes are an integral part of it and you have contributed to it and made that connection to another person.
R: I absolutely love working in costume. It means the world to me to be able to do my passion for a living! For me working in costume allows me to become a huge part of the magic of a show. The job can sometimes be intense and thankless but when you open a show and get to see all your hard work and effort come to life it’s something truly magical and it still gives me goosebumps and such an adrenaline rush!
How did you get into costume?
K: It began as an excuse to fuel my vintage clothing shopping addiction and I ended up doing a degree in costume design.
C: I worked in a bank for six years before realising that my Amateur Dramatics costume work was more exciting and gave me more joy. I completed a costume production degree at Rose Bruford College as a mature student, working throughout my holidays and evenings so that when I graduated I had a pretty good CV. I was then very lucky to get a full-time job in the Basingstoke Haymarket when it was a producing house and never looked back.
R: I studied technical theatre at university and did a placement module in which I was a wardrobe assistant on Evita, Slovenia. I was very fortunate that my design tutor was also a working designer and asked me to do the show with him in the summer. From there I made contacts and started doing more and more shows and had a tour as Wardrobe deputy lined up for when I finished.
What is the difference between working in costume for theatre and working in Film or TV?
K: Working in costume in theatre is like being in a family, there is nothing like the atmosphere backstage before a show. I think you can get away with being a bit more creative when you don’t have the pressures of viewing costumes under the eye of an HD camera. I feel you are able to build strong bonds and relationships with backstage teams and casts throughout the run of a show, there is something about the excitement of live performance that brings everybody together.
C: Theatre and live events like Opera and Dance are immediate. You can spend a lot of time working on the creation of the show and in technical rehearsal, although the best part is getting to see the show performed in front of an audience. The sense of shared common purpose with a fixed deadline is also galvanizing. Everyone is working towards the same deadline. In film or tv, you may be waiting two years in post-production to see the fruits of your labor.
Once the show opens, it is your job to replicate the show for each audience so that it feels fresh and new every time. No two performances are the same. Unlike film where it is set, theatre audiences reactions form part of the show, there is nothing like standing backstage and hearing an audience react to a line being spoken live onstage.
R: Part of the joy of my job is the live aspect of it. The rush of a quick change and the crazy moments when you have to quickly fix a garment in the seconds when actors come off stage! I have loved theatre from a very young age and think it is truly a privilege and joy to be a part of!
Photos by Anthony Lee