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The Costumer's Manifesto: DRAMA-113 Introduction to Costume Design DRAMA-113Introduction to Costume Design - Spring 2010

This syllabus is at the class web page:

[1] or by going to

Catalog Course Description

DRAMA-113Introduction to Costume Design

2.5 Units


May Be Repeated Once

1 hour Lecture / 2 hours Laboratory / 3 hours Lab by Arrangement per Week

Theory and application of costume design and construction for the theater including fabric, basic patterns, wardrobe plotting, and historical styles. Working in crews for construction of costumes for theatrical productions. CSU, UC

Time: 12:30-3:20

Days: Friday

Campus: DVC

Building: PAC

Room: 1 (Costume Studio)

Instructor: Tara Maginnis, Ph.D., home phone 415 479 3157 email:tara@costumes.orgDON’T USE THE DVC ONE.Personal website:

[2]Office Hrs:Jan 26-March 30 & April 13-May 25 Tues 11am-12noon, May 28 Thursday 11am-noon.You can also find me during most costume studio lab hours.

Costume Lab Hours: Tuesdays 12noon to 7pm, Thursdays 11am to 7pm, Fridays 3:30-6:30pm.Lab hours may also be obtained by serving on costume crews during rehearsals and performances of shows as indicated in the attached calendar.You will keep a time sheet (card) in the costume studio to keep track of your hours.Let Tara know when you will be coming in so she can line up things for you to do.You are responsible for 45 lab hours over the course of the semester.

Class Web:

[3] Photos that I take of you in class may be posted there, where you can download or print out the images.Let me know if you do NOT want photos of you or your work put online.A copy of this syllabus will also be online there, along with links to additional material.

Textbook:The Costumer’s Manifesto: a Guide for Artists Who Make Clothes for Imaginary People, by Tara Maginnis.You buy this book directly from Tara, for $25 and if it is kept in very good condition, you may sell it back to her at the end of the semester for full price, how is that for reasonable?

Suggested texts: The Magic Garment; Principles of Costume Design by C. Rebecca Cunningham. Tickets for DVC shows.

Materials: You will need some basic art materials for the rendering projects, and will probably buy an assortment of items to make your final project and some smaller projects.It is possible to do these projects very economically or very lavishly depending on your budget.If you have extreme money constraints, let Tara know and she will provide you with materials provided by the DVC costume studio so long as the projects made with them become DVC costume stock.

Shows: All students enrolled in a theatre class are expected to either participate in, or view our shows.If there is a production you are not actively participating in as crew member or cast, you should go see the show.The Thursday before the Friday opening of each show is often a discount student preview.

Course Goals: To learn basic processes for design, research and construction for period and modern costume on the stage.

Student Learning Outcomes: By the end of this course, students should have an understanding and appreciation of the basic steps needed to get costumes designed, made, and fitted on a performer on stage.They should also acquire basic figure drawing and basic sewing skills, several specialized costume craft skills based on their areas of interest, and be able to make simple costume accessories by adapting existing items like used clothing, wigs, and caps.

Instructional methods (and related grading info):Each class will begin with a lecture and/or demo where I will show you how to do a technique for a possible project. This will typically take 1hr.After the demonstration occurs, the class will stay after the demo to work on projects till 3:20, and each individual will return during Costume Studio times for an average of 3 hours per week.During those hours you will do both a series of very specific small projects with hand-holding by me or costume shop staff, plus you will do traditional lab work on the costumes for DVC shows.While you will be responsible for reading your text book outside of class, and hunting down materials to make some of your projects (lint, old clothes, old nylons, wire coat hangers, baseball cap, fabric, pine cones, etc.) your only outside homework projects will be making a single “final project” costume and reading researching, and rendering costumes for Patience

Patience: Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan is show with many good design possibilities which you will be working on for much of the semester.Lescher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek has The Lamplighters Music Theatre performing Patience at 2pm & 8pm on January 30th, and 2pm on January 31.Tickets range from $48-43 for adults, $43-38 with student ID, $20-15 for kids under 17.They also have $15 student rush tickets 1 hr before a performance to fill any unreserved seats.Patience is a 19th Century musical comedy, in English, suitable for children and conservative grandparents and it typically amuses all.

Emergency Garments: A person involved with Disaster Emergency rescue efforts has requested I help her with finding people to design and make samples of a possible Emergency rescue garments. She has written:

“I am in contact with a team that flies to the aid of humans in any country who have been devastated by disasters both natural and man-made, leaving them homeless, without food and clothing, etc. I have suggested to ...[them] aGARMENT' - consisting of two-tiers, A-line and unisex , with the outer layer composed of weather-proof material, designed so that it can be easily turned into a tent, if needed, while the lower layer also of all-weather material, contains pockets filled with NASA -type food, water tubes, and other survival necessities, that would last for two or three days, until more permanent help can reach them. These garments could be dropped by plane, if the roads have been blocked. Dr. Laor states he cannot have this concept implemented until he has a prototype design in place. Would you know of anyone who could help with designing this prototype?”

Since this sounds like a perfect garment design project, I said I’d ask you all to come up with ideas, including garment ideas that don’t fit these exact parameters, but which may perform the same task.


Short Projects 40% of grade:

Dyed Garment

Distressed Garment for costume stock

Rub’n’buf accessory for costume stock

1900 decorated Hat for costume stock

Wig for costume stock

Research for Emergency Relief Garment

Rendering for Emergency Relief Garment

Research Xeroxes for Patience

8 color costume renderings for Patience

Other small craft projects as assigned and completed in the latter part of Monday night class.

Evaluation: Project assignments will be graded based on

25% Completion (Is the project really done, or have important steps been left unfinished?)

25% Neatness, accuracy, clarity (How much have your drawing/sewing/crafting skills improved?)

25% Creativity (Are the choices you have made in design or construction boring and ill thought out or interesting and clever?)

25% Practicality (Would the project actually be usable in a show on stage?)

Final Project 20% A completed costume or Emergency Garment of your design, made either from scratch or adapted from found parts as per your level of previous experience.Costume must be rendered on paper before completion.

Lab Participation 30% Be there.Be willing.Follow directions.Just like Technical Theatre Lab. If you can manage these things, a good grade is assured. Time spent should be roughly 3 hrs a week or 45 hours over all.

Class participation 10% means providing helpful commentary, ideas, and moral support to your fellow students.It also means you are there for the demos and the hours after, working cooperatively with your fellow students, while getting more done than just talking.

Course calendar: The Tentative schedule for the demosis as follows (This may change):

January 22: Introduction of syllabus. Explain about Final costume Projects & Emergency Garment Design.Lecture: The Costumer as Artist.. Tour and talk about On the Razzle costumes. Bring $25 check dated 5/28/10 for book next week.

January 29:Explain about reading plays, what costumers do, general lecture about what purposes costumes serve. Discuss HP Four Founders and Patience design project. Practice drawing.For next week read Chapter “Body”, and bring a white 100% cotton or silk garment.

February 5: Demo: Dyeing pt 1. Color Swatches project.Measuring for costumes.For next class read Chapter “Character” and the script of Patienceand do a color drawing for your final costume or emergency garment project.

February 12:Lincoln’s Birthday Holiday, no class

February 19: Bring Emergency Garment/Final project rendering. Discuss final projects, Patience project, Dyeing Demo pt 2.For next week read chapter “Art” and bring in research images for Patience

February 26: Discuss research on Patience. Costume rendering the way I do it demo.For next week, read Chapter “Idea”.

March 5:Othello Tie-in project. See Steampunk weaponry & costumes, demonstrate Rub’n’buff.For next week, read Chapter “Color” bring any item you want distressed.

March 12: Distressing demo. For next week, read Chapter “Garbage” and bring in B&W sketches for Patience

March 19: Wigs demo.Watercolor demo.For next week, read Chapter “Butchery”.

March 26: Meeting in alternate location:Costume History show!For next week, read Chapter “Glory” and bring in color renderings for Patience

April 2:Presentation of your Patience renderings.2nd Wave of Emergency renderings. For next class, read Chapter “Soul”, & bring in Final costume projects in progress.

April 5-9: Spring Break, no class.No lab times.

April 16:Help and show and tell with Final costume/Emergency Garment projects in progress.Demo on 1900 shirt and suit conversions.

April 23:1900 hat trimming demo.

April 30: Claw Glove Demo.

May 7: Craft felt hats/lint sculpture demo

May 14: Quick skirts and capes demo.

May 21: Recycled garbage into costumes demo.

May 28, Final Exam Period: Bring Final costume projects.

Course policies: While it is an obvious point of ethics that you should not turn in work that is not your own for a grade in class, this does not imply that you cannot ask for help on your costume projects from Tara, other students, or even your dear old Mom.

Attendance, Punctuality & Common Politeness:It is difficult to earn full participation credit (10% of grade, remember?) if you miss a lot of the class presentations, or regularly come in late.There is no specific number of absences that is a “cutoff” line for full credit, rather it is the amount of time I see your shining faces, the extent to which you do or don’t participate in the demos/discussions, and above all, the frequency of times I have to shout to be heard over your private non-costume-related conversations that influence my judgments on this matter.I know that major portions of costume class feels exactly like the Drama Dept Friday afternoon “stitch and bitch” meeting, (and this is fine) but there are times, most obviously when I’m trying to address the whole class, that you need to stop your conversations and let me be heard.Repeated brainlessness in this matter WILL lose you points.

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