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The Costumer's Manifesto: Faking Creativity
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The Costumer's Manifesto: FLEX YOUR HEAD MENTAL AEROBICS
  
'''FAKING CREATIVITY:'''
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FLEX YOUR HEAD MENTAL AEROBICS
  
==FAKING==
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EXERCISES FOR INDUCING CREATIVITYNON-SPONTANEOUSLY
  
IT: Probably the most important set ofskills for a costumer are those various means of faking things, from the simple means ofletting gold paint and hot glue pass for embroidery, to the complex means of"faking" creativity. The latter, is probably the most important skill in acostumer's art and life since she [Sorry I'm being sexist, yes, guys make great costumer'stoo, I've just had a problem with generically using "he" as a personal pronounsince 7th grade English.] has to create on demand, and can't wait for her mood or muse tostrike.
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==NON==
  
==SAVING==
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SPONTANEOUS CREATIVITY:Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Wrong. All the methods described in the
  
CREATIVITY FOR A RAINY DAY: Fakingcreativity is, in a way, a misnomer. One can't "fake" a great creative idea, orit simply isn't a great creative idea. However, one can, both induce creativity more orless on demand and save up creative thoughts from a previous day to use at a later datewhen they are needed. Creative ideas, both one's own and those provided by outsideinfluences, can be stored like nuts for winter in the following ways:
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[[Advice1pagesFaking|NONprevious chapter]] can be used to induce creative thought, as well assave creative thoughts acquired earlier. Besides which there are other more active thingsyou can do to get your mind working.
  
==NOTEBOOK==  
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==DRAWING==  
  
S: Take the blank book somebody gave youlast Christmas with the arty cover and the intimidating BLANK pages and stick it in yourpurse. Next time you see something really neat, or think of an interesting idea try to doa drawing of it or write it down. If you never seem to get ideas, just pull it out anddoodle anything when you are stuck places doing nothing: waiting at the airport, inrestaurants, and all those short annoying waits that otherwise make life tedious andfrustrating.I
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ON THE CREATIVEIMAGINATION: Betty Edwards, the author best known for her ground breaking book of drawinginstruction: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, wrote another great but lesserknown book called Drawing on the Creative Imagination. This book is full ofpractical exercises for developing creativity, easy to follow by anyone over the age ofseven. I recommend you buy it and read it ASAP. In addition, reading her work hassuggested to me a number of crazy ways to tap into your subconscious design talents. Theyare:
  
f you can't do this try writing your shopping list, or drawing the salt and pepper shakers. Eventually if you keep the damn thing with you, you will begin to put in your
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[[ManifestoAdvice#NON|DRAWINGNon-Spontaneous Creativity]]
  
[[Advice1pagesIdeanote|FAKINGSAVING NOTEBOOKspare ideas]] that you don't need yet. Don't expect to putin finished ideas, just put stuff in as it occurs to you, and these bits and pieces willbe handy later. It doesn't matter squat if these sketches look good, they are just thereto store ideas before you forget them. This is also a great way to work for those peoplewho always do better sketches on paper napkins in restaurants, than they can do completedrenderings. In fact, after you do this for a while, you may want to give in and do yourrenderings in restaurants as well. I do.
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[[ManifestoAdvice#DRAWING|Drawing on the Creative Imagination]]
  
You can support my site by buying products offered by my affiliate sponsors:
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[[ManifestoAdvice#TWENTY|Twenty Questions]]
  
[[File:h.t]]
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[[ManifestoAdvice#JETSONS|The Jetsons]]
  
[[File:AmazonBooks4Costumes_chemistry%20.jpg]]
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[[ManifestoAdvice#WHO'S|Who's This Fabric?]]
  
[[File:AmazonBooksInstantperiodcostumes.jpg]]
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[[ManifestoAdvice#WALK|Walk This Way]]
  
[[File:Advice1pagesNotebook.htm| Click here tosee some of my Notebook Pages]]
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[[ManifestoAdvice#DOORWAY|The Doorway]]
  
==SCRAPBOO==
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[[ManifestoAdvice#BODY PARTS|Body Parts]]
  
KS: This is for all those ideas you seein magazines and the paper that you want to stick on your bulletin board but don't havethe room. Buy a cheap "magnetic" page album, cut out the pictures, and stickthem in. Then when you need a creative idea to steal (sorry, "adapt") you justflip through your albums and look for something appropriate. It need not be a picture ofa costume, just pictures that give you ideas: anything from nature photographs to modernart.
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[[ManifestoAdvice#DADA|Dada Calisthenics.]]
  
==IDEA==
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Remember please, these are brain-flexing exercises so they willbe strange sounding. Many of these ideas can be done by whole classes or groups at once.
  
BOXES: Same idea only three dimensional. BillJones of San Francisco State used to require his design class to bring in an"object-of-the-week" that they found, to give the other students ideas. Peoplebrought in interesting leaves, nuts and garbage: rusted objects, colored scrap papers andso forth. In an optimum situation you will turn your whole home and work place into giantidea boxes filled with objects and pictures that creatively inspire you. I myself havedone this with my apartment, and a student who saw it was so inspired by it she designed astage set for Dusa, Fish, Stas, and Vi based on it. Milla, a Russian designer friend of mine, collected so many fun metal objects that she foundinspiring, she tied them all to strings on a lamp, and now has a metal chandelier/ musicalinstrument in her studio. The lamp, in turn, inspired a performance piece. Havinginteresting colors and shapes surround you as you work and think, can help to give youideas faster than you can use them.
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==TWENTY==
  
[[File:TravelRussiaMilalamp.gif|SCRAPBOOIDEA]]
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QUESTIONS: When thinking aboutdesigning costumes for characters in a play, look at each character and answer thefollowing questions:
  
==COVER==
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You can support my site by buying products offered by my affiliate sponsors:
  
THE WALLS: To this end I advise all costumeshops to plaster every inch of their wall space with pictures, objects, fabrics and paintof an inspiring nature. Do not limit yourself to bulletin boards. If you have cement walls(who doesn't?) hot glue the stuff to the cement.  
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[[File:AmazonBooksUndressingcinema.gif]]
  
[[File:ImagesCostshop77549_07.jpg|COVER]] Oddto say I learned this trick not from a costumer, but from visiting the study of writerAnne Rice, author of Interview With the Vampire. She coats the entire wall oppositeher word processor with pictures she feels are appropriate to her next novel.(No I don't know her, I just knew a former house sitter). Doing thisin a shop is tremendously inspiring. When one is tired and running out of ideas, lookingat blank walls is depressing and counter productive. When ideas are falling off all thewalls around you, on the other hand, it is nearly impossible to give up. In addition, feelfree to decorate the furniture, the lamps, the floor and ceiling to the extent that firecode permits. For more about this see the
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If this character were a car, what car would it be? If thischaracter were a plant, what plant would it be? If this character were a food, what foodwould it be? If this character were an animal....etc.
  
[[Store100pagesShop|Painting the Furniture]]section.
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You can add as many more questions of this type as you need. Sayfor instance you imagine Bianca in Taming of the Shrew this way, your answers mightbe: a pink "Mary Kay" Cadillac, a white rhododendron, a strawberry sundae withwhipped cream and a cherry, and a white cockapoo. What you're looking for is a visual imagefor the character that you can use in their costume design. Depending on how realisticyour production is you will use this image literally or only figuratively. Of the abovementioned images for Bianca I feel the sundae works best, and I would probably design hercostume to look suggestive of a super sweet dessert, begging to be eaten.
  
==MORGUE==
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THE
  
: A morgue is simply a clipping file ofarticles and pictures on subjects you may later have use for. Newspaper publishers keepthem on noteworthy figures, and makeup designers keep them on different facial features.You, quite obviously, need to keep them on costumes and matters relating to costume. Itypically keep articles on how-to do costume things from magazines like Sunset,that tell you "How to Marbleize Fabrics" and the like. I also keep pamphlets andarticles on the history of costume in these files as well.
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==JETSONS==
  
==XEROXES==
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: C.Neil Vipperman of Atlantainadvertently fell upon the Jetsons method while working on his MFA at the University ofGeorgia. He was assigned by his director to do the six "characters" in SixCharacters in Search of an Author, as timeless futuristic costumes. At the last minute, afterthe fabric was bought, and the day before cutting was to start, the director askedthat the designs be changed to their original 1920's period. Staying up all night in apanic, Neil zipped through changing the designs by adapting his "Jetsons"costumes, as we in the UGA costume shop called them, into 1920's silhouettes. Strange tosay these new designs were even better than the ones he worked on for weeks because theycontained all the color and shape ideas that the futuristic set had, without distractingshoulder pads and stiffened collars. Working on the show in another period allowed him toextract the essence of each character without being mired in period detail. Adding theperiod look last in the process let the characters look timeless, while still having anindication of their 1920's origin. To replicate this process one simply tries to design ashow in another period: modern, futuristic, Elizabethan, or whatever. Then later oneredesigns the show in the appropriate period, using ideas borrowed from the first designs.This is an especially good method for shows that sometimes seem to be happening in twoperiods at once like Marat/SadeLa BeteAll For Love, or JuliusCaesar
  
: Many times, you can't cut out the pictureof a good idea since it's in a book. If you can't afford to buy the book you can afford toXerox the important parts for reference. In some places color Xerox is even cheap enoughto use. While in places that don't have Xerox machines, (like
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==WHO'S==
  
[[History100pagesStalin|MORGUEXEROXESRussianlibraries]]) use your notebook to copy everything. This will give you drawing practice,as well as allow you to save ideas that you see for later.
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THIS FABRIC?: This is a good one for awhole costume class to do together. Take out fabric samples for an assortment of fabriccolors and textures. Spread them on a table and ask the class to write on slips of paperat least three adjectives describing the sort of person they imagine wearing that fabric.Have them put the slips in piles next to each fabric sample. When everyone is finishedread them out loud. Most fabric colors and textures will suggest similar adjectives tomost people. These are three lists my class did:
  
==BUILD==
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Orange SpandexYoung, brainless, annoying, cheerful,energetic.
  
YOUR OWN LIBRARY: On the other hand, if youcan afford the book, buy it. Costume books are inspiring, enlightening, and fun. Besideswhich, their resale value usually keeps apace of inflation, so if you ever quit costuming,you can often resell them at a profit. Owning your own library is a tremendous asset intime saved hunting at public libraries at the last minute. However, public libraries andUniversity libraries are great, too. More about library hunting can be found in thesection on
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Scruffy Wool TweedOld, sick, professorial, tired,educated.
  
[[Advice1pagesResearch|BUILDLibrary Research.]]
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Plaid Flannel lMasculine, stable, practical,strong, comfortable.
  
[[File:ImagesCostshop77549_12.jpg]] Part of my hoard of costume books at UAF
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A few fabrics will give off contradictory images in a group, andthis is almost more interesting than the more obvious ones. If you have a person in yourclass who comes from a different culture, she will likely get different images from therest of the group. A discussion of different cultural meanings for colors, will inevitablyput everyone to thinking about where their own beliefs on color originate.
  
==RICH==  
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==WALK==  
  
EYES: '''"I fear you have soldyour own lands to see other men's; then, to have seen much and to have nothing, is to haverich eyes and poor hands...and to travel for it too!"'''--W.Shakespeare, As You Like It, IV. 1.
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THIS WAY: Remember the joke in YoungFrankenstein where "Ay-gor" tells Dr. Frankenstein to "walk thisway" i.e., like a limping hunchback? Characters in plays are usually individuals, whoshould have individual ways of walking. Think like an actor, and try to walk, stand andsit like each character. When you feel yourself inside the body of the character, you willquickly find the "center" of that imaginary person's body. This is a good cueabout the costume's center of focus, and should also help you to determine the type ofshoes necessary. For example, in Guys and Dolls the posture of Adelaide as awiggling S-curve semi-stripper, pretty well requires she wear heels to help push out herbackside and bust
  
'''"We travel not to see new places, but to see with neweyes."''' --Marcel Proust
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[[File:GuydollsImagesGuys47.jpg|JETSONSWHO'SWALK]]
  
This exercise is a simple thing to do in a new, unfamiliar place, but adifficult one to do in one's own backyard. As the above quotations indicate, this is onereason we
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Costume design for Adelaide in Guys 'n' Dolls
  
[[Advice1pagesTravel|RICHtravel]]. However, it is possible to do this on one'shome turf, either by sitting at a new perspective (remember in The Dead Poet's Society,when the teacher had students stand on his desk?), like the floor, or on top of a piece offurniture, or simply by concentrating on looking at the world, hard.
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.This can also be a really great project for awhole costume class: Divide into two groups that switch off. One "performs"while the other watches. The performing group is asked to try to walk like a particularcharacter. The watchers pick a favorite walk from the group that is then demonstrated anddiscussed with regard to center, posture, and shoes. Then the watching group performs withanother character, etc... Until the whole character list has been debated. This is a verygood exercise in schools where actor's and tech/design folks have got into an adversarialposition. The actors in class will usually demonstrate their knowledge and ability inphysically manifesting the character, and the tech/design folks will have lots of goodideas about how to help the performers in the discussion. It ends up getting them to bothbond and improve communication.
  
You need to make an effort to stop. Just stop. And look at the worldaround you. Whether it is to look in a garbage can, or at a sunset, or at the room you aresitting in, and mine it for visual information about color, texture, shape, and thatindefinable thing beauty. This is not only a help to you as an artist, but as a person. Ifyou can do this one thing, you will forever be able to see some beauty in any place youare stuck, and therefore forever be able to see your cup as half full rather than halfempty. It is the single most artistically and emotionally valuable talent you can develop.
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THE
  
I personally think I "discovered" how to do it while travelingto England when I was 21. Some people are born knowing it. For me it took a hellish daythousands of miles from home, to "get" it. I was in the 4th week of a five weektrip in dreadful weather, all alone. I went to York on a one day trip from London, andmissed my train back, just as it was turning dark and I was getting a migraine. I hadalmost two hours to wait for the next train, I had heavy books in a package, a thin coat,and nowhere to sit. I was horribly homesick and cold. Then lightning burst the clouds overhead into rain. I should have cried. But this was England, you don't do that sort of thingin public.
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==DOORWAY==
  
So instead I looked up at the dirty glass of the Victorian train stationroof, the faded Northern evening light, the sheets of rain, and concentrated on howbeautifully the silver gray of the rain harmonized with the lead gray of the sky and thepale gray of the dirty glass. I concentrated on how the wavelets of rain running down theglass, matched the fish scale shape of the panes in their cast iron frames. And I sniffedthe air until I could smell the scent of wood burning in nearby fireplaces, and strainedmy ears to hear the church bells doing the complicated mathematical dances the Englishcall change-ringing. And suddenly I was in the most beautiful, interesting place I'dvisited all day, and the time passed quickly, and pleasurably. And I can still, fifteenyears later, tell you how it looked and felt.
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: This is a similar idea, buteasy to do just with pen and paper. Before you start any kind of design drawing, Imagineeach character standing, back lit, in a doorway, where all you see is a vague silhouetteor lump like shape: Is it hulking, bristling, flowing, top-heavy, bottom-heavy, smooth,skinny, amorphous? Make a series of small rectangles on paper, and in each draw the shapethat is suggested to you by that character. Then, as you design, try to incorporate eachsilhouette into each design.
  
You need to open your eyes to all the beauty that surrounds you on adaily basis, and feed on it like a hungry beast. You need to pursue it like a hunter anddevour it with your eyes to memorize every detail. These details can be used later, likeyour notes and Xeroxes, to jog your creativity when needed. They can also feed your soulas you take them in, every day. They are the basic food of artistic inspiration, and youcannot create anything original without them.
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==BODY PARTS==
  
Did you dream last night about wandering down a
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: This was suggested to me bya show where I tried to make costumes that the actors could alter themselves for differentcharacters (for more on this see the section on
  
[[UafcostumeshopPagesCostshop|black hall of graffiti]] to a hiddenpalace of  
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[[Shows100pagesMuchado|DOORWAYBODY PARTSOmnicostumes]]). I included in my designs alot of masks on elastic straps (we were doing
  
[[UafcostumeshopPagesCostshop|costume?]]
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[[Shows100pagesMuchado| Much Ado]], which has lots of masks andmistaken identity in the plot). I gave them to the actors and told them to put them on thebody parts that seemed important to their character. Margaret, the oversexed maid asked tohave hers stitched to her breasts, Borachio, her boastful lover, wore his as a codpiece,the messenger boy put his on as knee pads, the fashionable and handsome young noblemen,Benedick and Claudio wore theirs as shoulder pads, a pregnant maid wore hers on her belly,the truthless Don John put his directly covering his heart, and so forth.
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Body Parts, therefore is where you pick an object, like a mask,or decoration, or something, and pin the tail on the donkey with each character. Askyourself, what body part is the center of their focus? Put the decoration on that part ofyour body, and try to move with that part leading the movement. Does it feel and lookright? If not, try moving the decoration till the "character" appears to bemoving naturally for him/her. Then when you know where the center of that character is,you can design the focal point of the costume to enhance that center. Again, this is funto do in a group.
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==DADA==
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CALISTHENICS: This is definitely one todo in a group unless you are very brave. This is pure brain flexing, without any directconnection to doing your designs, but it leaves everyone's creative batteries recharged.It is also just plain fun. It helps to read Tristan Tzara's Dada Manifesto 1918just before commencing. The object of each exercise is to concentrate on engaging in themost absurd and senseless acts possible. If your group is a bit slow, and/or shy, it helpsto give each person a piece of paper and ask them to describe the most absurd andsenseless act that the group can do. Then you read them out loud and choose a plan ofaction. Examples my students have thought of are:
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Go to the Fairbanks airport and put "lei's" of ice cubes on incoming passengers returning from Hawaii, while singing "Aloha Ohe".
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Dressed in gas masks, rubber gloves, lab coats, and sun glasses, enter the women's toilet, like a panel of industrial experts, inspect each toilet with much flushing, "testing" and fanfare. Then inform all around (and each other) that the toilets have been tested as safe. Stick up huge intimidating signs that say "THERE IS NOTHING WHATSOEVER WRONG WITH THE TOILETS" and "THESE TOILETS ARE SAFE."
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Beating drums and dancing in a circle, fling ice cubes in the air while chanting "Snow, SNOW, snow, SNOW!" etc. Then calmly inform onlookers that this ritual sacrifice of ice cubes will ensure snow within the week. Solicit donations of ice cubes from people with soda drinks for the purpose.
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You can also, with a suitably deranged group leader or leaders,simply venture out without a plan, and do senseless things: ceremonial presentation ofbroken coat hangers to important people, children's games like "Doctor, Doctor, Ifeel sick" or "Mother may I?", singing popular song lyrics in Tibetan chantstyle, falling to the ground and "worshipping" objects of ordinary life likewater fountains and trash receptacles, etc. The idea is to get everyone to open theirminds to the natural possibilities for absurdity in everyday life, and to see things withnew eyes in their daily world. The exhibitionistic aspect of the thing alsosuper-sensitizes and energizes people who don't usually perform, thus making them feelsuper-charged.
  
 
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Revision as of 00:55, 23 January 2014

The Costumer's Manifesto: FLEX YOUR HEAD MENTAL AEROBICS

FLEX YOUR HEAD MENTAL AEROBICS

EXERCISES FOR INDUCING CREATIVITYNON-SPONTANEOUSLY

NON

SPONTANEOUS CREATIVITY:Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Wrong. All the methods described in the

NONprevious chapter can be used to induce creative thought, as well assave creative thoughts acquired earlier. Besides which there are other more active thingsyou can do to get your mind working.

DRAWING

ON THE CREATIVEIMAGINATION: Betty Edwards, the author best known for her ground breaking book of drawinginstruction: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, wrote another great but lesserknown book called Drawing on the Creative Imagination. This book is full ofpractical exercises for developing creativity, easy to follow by anyone over the age ofseven. I recommend you buy it and read it ASAP. In addition, reading her work hassuggested to me a number of crazy ways to tap into your subconscious design talents. Theyare:

DRAWINGNon-Spontaneous Creativity

Drawing on the Creative Imagination

Twenty Questions

The Jetsons

Who's This Fabric?

Walk This Way

The Doorway

Body Parts

Dada Calisthenics.

Remember please, these are brain-flexing exercises so they willbe strange sounding. Many of these ideas can be done by whole classes or groups at once.

TWENTY

QUESTIONS: When thinking aboutdesigning costumes for characters in a play, look at each character and answer thefollowing questions:

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If this character were a car, what car would it be? If thischaracter were a plant, what plant would it be? If this character were a food, what foodwould it be? If this character were an animal....etc.

You can add as many more questions of this type as you need. Sayfor instance you imagine Bianca in Taming of the Shrew this way, your answers mightbe: a pink "Mary Kay" Cadillac, a white rhododendron, a strawberry sundae withwhipped cream and a cherry, and a white cockapoo. What you're looking for is a visual imagefor the character that you can use in their costume design. Depending on how realisticyour production is you will use this image literally or only figuratively. Of the abovementioned images for Bianca I feel the sundae works best, and I would probably design hercostume to look suggestive of a super sweet dessert, begging to be eaten.

THE

JETSONS

C.Neil Vipperman of Atlantainadvertently fell upon the Jetsons method while working on his MFA at the University ofGeorgia. He was assigned by his director to do the six "characters" in SixCharacters in Search of an Author, as timeless futuristic costumes. At the last minute, afterthe fabric was bought, and the day before cutting was to start, the director askedthat the designs be changed to their original 1920's period. Staying up all night in apanic, Neil zipped through changing the designs by adapting his "Jetsons"costumes, as we in the UGA costume shop called them, into 1920's silhouettes. Strange tosay these new designs were even better than the ones he worked on for weeks because theycontained all the color and shape ideas that the futuristic set had, without distractingshoulder pads and stiffened collars. Working on the show in another period allowed him toextract the essence of each character without being mired in period detail. Adding theperiod look last in the process let the characters look timeless, while still having anindication of their 1920's origin. To replicate this process one simply tries to design ashow in another period: modern, futuristic, Elizabethan, or whatever. Then later oneredesigns the show in the appropriate period, using ideas borrowed from the first designs.This is an especially good method for shows that sometimes seem to be happening in twoperiods at once like Marat/SadeLa BeteAll For Love, or JuliusCaesar

WHO'S

THIS FABRIC?: This is a good one for awhole costume class to do together. Take out fabric samples for an assortment of fabriccolors and textures. Spread them on a table and ask the class to write on slips of paperat least three adjectives describing the sort of person they imagine wearing that fabric.Have them put the slips in piles next to each fabric sample. When everyone is finishedread them out loud. Most fabric colors and textures will suggest similar adjectives tomost people. These are three lists my class did:

Orange SpandexYoung, brainless, annoying, cheerful,energetic.

Scruffy Wool TweedOld, sick, professorial, tired,educated.

Plaid Flannel lMasculine, stable, practical,strong, comfortable.

A few fabrics will give off contradictory images in a group, andthis is almost more interesting than the more obvious ones. If you have a person in yourclass who comes from a different culture, she will likely get different images from therest of the group. A discussion of different cultural meanings for colors, will inevitablyput everyone to thinking about where their own beliefs on color originate.

WALK

THIS WAY: Remember the joke in YoungFrankenstein where "Ay-gor" tells Dr. Frankenstein to "walk thisway" i.e., like a limping hunchback? Characters in plays are usually individuals, whoshould have individual ways of walking. Think like an actor, and try to walk, stand andsit like each character. When you feel yourself inside the body of the character, you willquickly find the "center" of that imaginary person's body. This is a good cueabout the costume's center of focus, and should also help you to determine the type ofshoes necessary. For example, in Guys and Dolls the posture of Adelaide as awiggling S-curve semi-stripper, pretty well requires she wear heels to help push out herbackside and bust

JETSONSWHO'SWALK

Costume design for Adelaide in Guys 'n' Dolls

.This can also be a really great project for awhole costume class: Divide into two groups that switch off. One "performs"while the other watches. The performing group is asked to try to walk like a particularcharacter. The watchers pick a favorite walk from the group that is then demonstrated anddiscussed with regard to center, posture, and shoes. Then the watching group performs withanother character, etc... Until the whole character list has been debated. This is a verygood exercise in schools where actor's and tech/design folks have got into an adversarialposition. The actors in class will usually demonstrate their knowledge and ability inphysically manifesting the character, and the tech/design folks will have lots of goodideas about how to help the performers in the discussion. It ends up getting them to bothbond and improve communication.

THE

DOORWAY

This is a similar idea, buteasy to do just with pen and paper. Before you start any kind of design drawing, Imagineeach character standing, back lit, in a doorway, where all you see is a vague silhouetteor lump like shape: Is it hulking, bristling, flowing, top-heavy, bottom-heavy, smooth,skinny, amorphous? Make a series of small rectangles on paper, and in each draw the shapethat is suggested to you by that character. Then, as you design, try to incorporate eachsilhouette into each design.

BODY PARTS

This was suggested to me bya show where I tried to make costumes that the actors could alter themselves for differentcharacters (for more on this see the section on

DOORWAYBODY PARTSOmnicostumes). I included in my designs alot of masks on elastic straps (we were doing

Much Ado, which has lots of masks andmistaken identity in the plot). I gave them to the actors and told them to put them on thebody parts that seemed important to their character. Margaret, the oversexed maid asked tohave hers stitched to her breasts, Borachio, her boastful lover, wore his as a codpiece,the messenger boy put his on as knee pads, the fashionable and handsome young noblemen,Benedick and Claudio wore theirs as shoulder pads, a pregnant maid wore hers on her belly,the truthless Don John put his directly covering his heart, and so forth.

Body Parts, therefore is where you pick an object, like a mask,or decoration, or something, and pin the tail on the donkey with each character. Askyourself, what body part is the center of their focus? Put the decoration on that part ofyour body, and try to move with that part leading the movement. Does it feel and lookright? If not, try moving the decoration till the "character" appears to bemoving naturally for him/her. Then when you know where the center of that character is,you can design the focal point of the costume to enhance that center. Again, this is funto do in a group.

DADA

CALISTHENICS: This is definitely one todo in a group unless you are very brave. This is pure brain flexing, without any directconnection to doing your designs, but it leaves everyone's creative batteries recharged.It is also just plain fun. It helps to read Tristan Tzara's Dada Manifesto 1918just before commencing. The object of each exercise is to concentrate on engaging in themost absurd and senseless acts possible. If your group is a bit slow, and/or shy, it helpsto give each person a piece of paper and ask them to describe the most absurd andsenseless act that the group can do. Then you read them out loud and choose a plan ofaction. Examples my students have thought of are:

Go to the Fairbanks airport and put "lei's" of ice cubes on incoming passengers returning from Hawaii, while singing "Aloha Ohe".

Dressed in gas masks, rubber gloves, lab coats, and sun glasses, enter the women's toilet, like a panel of industrial experts, inspect each toilet with much flushing, "testing" and fanfare. Then inform all around (and each other) that the toilets have been tested as safe. Stick up huge intimidating signs that say "THERE IS NOTHING WHATSOEVER WRONG WITH THE TOILETS" and "THESE TOILETS ARE SAFE."

Beating drums and dancing in a circle, fling ice cubes in the air while chanting "Snow, SNOW, snow, SNOW!" etc. Then calmly inform onlookers that this ritual sacrifice of ice cubes will ensure snow within the week. Solicit donations of ice cubes from people with soda drinks for the purpose.

You can also, with a suitably deranged group leader or leaders,simply venture out without a plan, and do senseless things: ceremonial presentation ofbroken coat hangers to important people, children's games like "Doctor, Doctor, Ifeel sick" or "Mother may I?", singing popular song lyrics in Tibetan chantstyle, falling to the ground and "worshipping" objects of ordinary life likewater fountains and trash receptacles, etc. The idea is to get everyone to open theirminds to the natural possibilities for absurdity in everyday life, and to see things withnew eyes in their daily world. The exhibitionistic aspect of the thing alsosuper-sensitizes and energizes people who don't usually perform, thus making them feelsuper-charged.

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Bakst : The Art of Theater & Dance (Temporis Series) Bakst : The Art of Theater & Dance (Temporis Series)

"The Costumer's Manifesto"
by Tara Maginnis