An Introduction to the Project

The overarching aim of this project is to create and realise a sustainable theatre costume process that tackles the climate crisis with a secondary aim for fellow scenographers to interpret and develop the practice which will allow theatre to run for many years in a way that causes as little damage to the planet.

“Where some see a problem, others see opportunity and a chance to innovate.”

(Beer & Hes, 2017:33)

The Metamorphic Costume aims to rethink the notion that implementing compromises in response to climate change is less of a limitation and more of a “chance to innovate” (Beer & Hes, 2017:33).

Originally taken from fashion practices which aim to create a garment so useful the consumer will never need to throw it away, this project focusses on how well The Metamorphic Project works in a theatrical setting. Does it portray meaning, story, character, and hierarchy? This question cannot be answered easily however this project will explore the surface of this topic. It references historical theatrical practices, the topic of 'limitation', sustainable theatre and the power of transformation in theatre. 

Key definitions for my project:

- Metamorphosis

- Sustainability

The main purpose of the costume:

- Sustainable costume

- Various uses

- Transformation & adaptability

- Creative & innovative design

Small & simplistic

Manipulation 

Reimagination

Reusable

Long term positive change

Set up an open ended dialogue

Collaboration

Important Definitions

“Where some see a problem, others see opportunity and a chance to innovate.” (Beer & Hes, 2017:33)

Metamorphosis is defined as “The action or process of changing in form, shape, or substance...” (OED, 2021). However, for me, the word metamorphosis relates to the possibilities of transformation in theatrical costume through meaning and mobility in the theatrical sign. 

Sustainability, though connected, is not tied only to climate change. The term, for me, relates to the overall process of allowing something to last for as long as possible in a way that causes the least negative ethical impact. 

The Purpose

This costume is designed for many characters, many shows and to last for as long as possible. It is about making the most of every costume and exploring every possible potential the fabric holds. It does this through its adaplitibly and chameleon-like nature. The Metamorphic Costume can be designed in various ways and can constantly be rethought and updated as necessary. It’s most fundamental principle is transformation. 

“Some degree of compromise is necessary in any system, but the greatest gains will be found by concentrating on innovation, improvement, and the discovery of emergent synergies between the different areas of sustainability.” (Johnson, 2009:20)

The Metamorphic Costume could be described as a more ‘simplistic’ form of costume due to the compromises that have to be made during the design process as a result of sustainable practice. But its possible interpretations are endless. When we are forced to make compromises it can create more innovative changes and help us discover new systems we never knew existed (Johnson, 2009:20).

Basic Principles & Features

The Metamorphic Costume is essentially small and simplistic garments with endless opportunities for manipulation and reimagination through creative design. By creating a costume in its most simplest form (by pinpointing the most important ways to express the character through the intricate details) the costume is reusable and can be imagined again and again. 

 

It’s important to note that The Metamorphic Costume doesn’t need to be shown in just this one experimental way. It has various benefits. It can be used to complete quick changes offstage, the costumes can be switched between characters during a show if necessary, and it can be used with any story, and fits in to any show production process.

Aims for the Project

The overarching aim of this project is to help implement processes that can create long term positive change within scenographic practice. It would be beneficial if it is interpreted as an open ended dialogue; the start of a collaborative creative discourse. Scenographers and theatre makers can add their own voice to this concept of The Metamorphic Costume and trial their own versions. This links in to the work the ABTT have been working on with a collaborative Theatre Green Book that is only being created so successfully because of the communication between theatre makers. A collaborative open discussion will help costume makers work towards a positive future more successfully.