Stage Costume. Between Fabric and Movement
The theater costume can play a very important role in a performance. It draws spectators’ attention and emphasizes emotions of characters, and on the other hand it also has a big impact on the acting process. The fabric and the construction of the costume could support the actor’s way of acting but also could make it difficult to move. That results in a completely different movement on stage and a special choreography. Some good examples of this are the fabulous costumes from Corneille’s Le Cid (2011) in the Teatr Polski in Warsaw designed by Dorota Kołodyńska and made from rich but extremely heavy fabric with the metal thread. Because of those costumes, the performance became static but monumental.
The role of the costume increases with the simplification of the set design. A great example of this, from the same set designer, is de Musset’s Lorenzaccio (2011) in Teatr Narodowy in Warsaw. Large amounts of light silks in intense colors dominated the subtle and minimalist gray scenery.
The best example of cooperation between costume designer and choreographer are designs prepared for dancers. The costume department of Great Theatre – National Opera in Warsaw, which is part of the Theater Museum, has a long practice of this cooperation with the members of the Polish National Ballet. So the vision of the designer is always discussed with the pattern cutter, the tailor and the person responsible for costume from the ballet team. Together they look for the best solution which will fulfill the vision of the designer and will be also convenient for dancers. For many years, the National Ballet has also cooperated with some fashion designers like Maciej Zień, who didn’t necessarily have good knowledge of the stage needs at the beginning, but this special practice of cooperation between different departments of the theater allowed him to create beautiful and unique costumes like the ones for Tristan (2009).
Katarzyna Wodarska-Ogidel is a PhD candidate in theater history at the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and the curator of the prints and drawing collection and the memorabilia collection at the Theater Museum in Warsaw, which is part of the Great Theater – National Opera. She has prepared several exhibitions about theater history in Poland, in which the costume was always one of the most important aspects of the exhibition. She was one of the co-authors of the concept of the exhibition European history told by it’s theaters, which was shown in museums in Warsaw, Copenhagen, Vienna, Ljubljana, Munich and London from 2015 till 2017. For several years she has prepared accompanying exhibitions about theatrical costumes for the Cultural Center of Kielce during International Competitions for Designers and Fashion Enthusiasts – Off Fashion.
“Tristan” Teatr Wielki-Opera Narodowa, 2009, Ewa Krasucka