Accurate period-appropriate costumes are an important thing to me, and to Bygone Theatre. I spend a considerable amount of time researching vintage fashion, and then even more time trying to figure out how to make it work on a budget. For a simple breakdown of what I’m looking for in terms of costumes for Rope I’ve created these costume boards.
I am a fan of very specific colour schemes. While I could easily do the show with all the actors wearing any colour that suits them, when I first start planning a production, one of the first things that pops into my head is the overall design and the colours that I want to use. For Rope, I decided to go with what I’ve been describing as a “bruise” palette; dark blues, purples and greys, along with accents of green.
Bruises typically have some yellow in them too, but I am avoiding warm colours in the costumes. Instead, I will have gold and brass accents, bringing in some warmth along with the metallics that were popular in the decade. I am keeping the actors mostly monochromatic, so to add interest I am using a lot of texture; wool, tweed, velvet, satin and detailed bead work will keep things visually interesting and stop them from looking too “flat”.
Leete Stetson stars as Brandon Wyndham; dashing, devilish and debonair. Brandon is described as not being “dressed”, ie. he is in casual attire. However, he still needs to look fashionable and expensively dressed. I am planning on putting Brandon in the very trendy Oxford Bags, along with a thick wool sweater and a bow tie.
Nicholas Arnold plays the quiet, anxious, gifted but shy James Kelly. Like Brandon, James is wearing a more casual outfit at home, so I am planning on putting him in a vest without a jacket. The script gives me a few specifics to work with; he needs a waistcoat with pockets and a tie pin, which means he will be wearing a neck tie.
Jamieson Child plays the crippled poet, Rupert Cadell. While Rupert comes to the party “dressed” in formal attire, he is not the type to be overly concerned with fashion, and so I picture him in slightly out-dated, less expensive clothes. Also, being a writer, I can’t help but picture Ernest Hemingway when I think of him.
Chelsey MacLean plays party-girl Leila Arden. Leila is celebrity obsessed, superficial, and overly concerned with her looks. I see her in a typical flapper style; lots of jewels, lush fabrics, and a stylish cloche hat.
Producer Matt McGrath is playing boy-next-door, Kenneth Raglan. Kenneth is young, college educated, preppy and well-off. He is embarrassed by showing up to the party “dressed”, which means he is in more formal clothes than Brandon and James. I want him in blue as well, but whereas James has a lighter blue with browns and Rupert has blue and black, Kenneth will likely have matching suit, vest and pants, all in a dark greyish blue.
Is played by Elizabeth Rose Morriss. Miss K is a little older and considerably more conservative than Leila, so I’ve chosen a less-flashy dress style for her. Rather than cover her in beading and fringe, I am looking for a fabric with a simple pattern; likely something floral. I think she may wear a wider-brimmed hat.
Miss Jefferies, The Maid
Caitlin Robson is playing Miss Jefferies, the maid, who will be wearing the traditional uniform. Black dress with sleeves, a white apron, decorated with lace, and a white, ruffled headpiece.