December 6 2015 - Jan 10, 2016
"Costume" often refers to a particular style of clothing worn to portray the wearer as a character or type of character in a theatrical performance on the stage. In combination with other aspects of stagecraft, theatrical costumes can help actors portray characters' and their contexts as well as communicate information about the historical period/era, geographic location and time of day, season or weather of the theatrical performance. Often, stylized theatrical costumes can exag- gerate some aspect of a character; for example Harlequin and Pantaloon in the Commedia dell'arte.
In order to tell the "story" of a character, costumes are the greatest tool to visually establish time period, socio-economic status, age, gender, and personality of the wearer. Among the many details involved in the creation of a characters costume, it is often the details which authenticate the world in which the character inhabits. Color, texture, silhouette and surface ornamentation all help to tell the story. From the simple addition of a small cotton ruffle to the elaborate beaded and bedazzled bodice stomacher, embroidery and surface ornamentation hold clues as to the character of the wearer. Beading might suggest affluence, whereas simple woven trim might suggest a lower class or a certain ethnic affiliation.
Among the variation of character exist just as many variations of embroidery, encompassing a wide range of techniques from thread embroidery to elaborate machine-created chainstitch or sequin application. You will see examples of hand needlework, tambour (fabric stretched on a frame) beading, and various forms of passementerie (the art of making elaborate trimmings or edgings of applied braid, gold or silver cord, embroidery, colored silk, or beads for clothing or furnishings). On display will be sketches, patterns, embroidery samples, and costumes representing all of the different types of surface ornamentation and how they are combined to create a visual story of character through costuming.