Skip to main content

Lights, camera, costume!

4th March 2024

If you’ve ever been to see one of the fabulous Henfield Theatre Company (HTC) productions, you’ll know just how professional their costumes are. From the fabulous fairies in ‘Midsummers Night Dream’, to Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the military uniforms of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’, the volunteer wardrobe department of Henfield Theatre Company help to bring our favourite characters to life.

Lyn Fryer is the current Costume Lead for HTC, leading a team of four talented regular individuals and ad hoc volunteers, but they are on the look-out for other talented designers and creators to join them as she explains: “If you’re interested in sewing or costume fitting and would like to get involved we would love to hear from you as much as we love doing this role, we won’t be able to do it for ever!”

With four or five productions a year, the wardrobe department is crucial to any production.

Costumes are one of the first things that the audience sees and they give them an idea of what is about to happen. The wardrobe department design, source and create all the clothing and accessories worn by the character and help fit them as well as organise the wardrobe. Once  a production is decided upon then a costume budget is agreed with the Production Manager and  working with the artistic vision of the Directors, the research, designing and creating starts. If it’s not possible to create a costume then they look to source it from somewhere else.

Lyn says “It’s a really lovely job. The design can be a challenge as you have to meet the Directors vision whilst also ensuring the costume is authentic for the period the play is set in.” She continues: “Making the costumes can sometimes also be challenging as not only do you sometimes have to create your own patterns, but occasionally you are creating some very weird and wonderful creatures too! For Treasure Island I had to create a parrot costume – something that I’d certainly never done before – and for the Wizard of Oz I needed to incorporate my husband’s engineering skills to create the classic Tin Man costume.”

This voluntary role can be however big or small as you would like it to be  – When Lyn first started volunteering for HTC she was still working full time and so just volunteered to create one costume per production, whereas now she is designing and creating alongside her team for up to five or six productions a year.

“It’s a very sociable role as you get to meet everyone involved in the production and the wardrobe department hold at least one workshop session per production where for example, everyone gets involved to cut our together or create a particular type of headdress together.”

If you’re experienced in sewing that’s great but the HTC wardrobe department are also interested in hearing from those  who are maybe not experienced in sewing,  but  who have a passion for costumes or who are good at organising and categorising things. There are also opportunities for those who would like to volunteer to help dress the actors on production nights and assist them with their costume changes.

In 2023 HTC were incredibly proud to win the Brighton & Hove Council Awards for Best Costume Design for Jekyll & Hyde, having previously also won in it in 2019 for One Man, Two Guvnors).

What are you waiting for?