Who will dress the King? Henry V Costume Dream Team needs your cast-offs  

As the pace picks up for the show, the Costume Design Team is issuing a call-out to the community far and wide – send us your cast-offs. A range of clothing and fabric items are still needed to complete the costume wardrobe for the cast of sixteen actors, and 31 different characters, and the team is welcoming donations to help fill the remaining gaps in supply.

Costume Supervisor Robyn Hutchinson says she has been overwhelmed by the high level of interest and generosity of the community so far, all shopping the closet and coming up with the most amazing contributions to help.

Costume Supervisor and The King

“Local secondhand shops have been a treasure trove – the Anglican Op Shop, St Vinnies, Salvation Army, and Leeton Community Op Shop all received a list two weeks ago and have been actively on the lookout collecting many of the key items ever since,” says Robyn.

“Some absolutely delectable finds, fabulous items resplendent in their textures and with beautiful finishes and rich brocades, the kinds of items that perfectly convey the voluptuous Medieval look and feel of the show.”

As well as the support of Leeton’s fantastic chain of op shops, Robyn has also turned to her time- honoured private network of creative, skillful local women with an eye for style – the sewing specialists, fabric diviners, crafty doyens, art foragers and texture obsessives in our midst who know how to recognize art and costume in the most unexpected of sources.

“In a short time, we have amassed a fascinating array of items – from sheep’s wool to shagpile bathmats, from bedspreads to chains, ribbon and lace and leather, velvet, silk, old wedding dresses, cambric cloth, rolls of hessian in back sheds, pirate pants, graduation gowns. Leeton is brimming with secret sewing and fabric foraging superpowers,” she said.

How to make the coat of a King: sheep’s wool to sable

Working from the design palette of the production’s Specialist Costume and Set Designer, Simon Greer of Ensemble Theatre, Robyn and her team have been in overdrive to source, design and create many of the basic items needed to dress a stellar cast in medieval English garb. The hum of sewing machines, the buzz of laying out and cutting fabric, pinning and trimming, the click-clack of knitting needles creating woolen chainmail, reaching into sewing cupboards for forgotten rolls of brocade and ribbon, sharing tips and tricks for making the Henry V world come alive – this Costume Dream Team is one of the best held assets of the production.

Speer and Greer reveal the costume palette

Core team members Jeanette Petts, Wendy Senti, Fiona Stevens and Megan Martin have been leading the charge with Robyn.

“We’ve all worked together on many different community projects over the years, including previous theatre productions. These fantastic women give of their time willingly and in various ways in a sort of shift work model. Where and when you can. The sewing skills of these women is phenomenal – they are real artisans and we are lucky to have them,” said Robyn.

The Costume Supervisor role is a departure for Robyn but one that she is a loving. A decade ago she was at the heart of a previous Golden Age of Leeton theatre – working with Mark Ciavarella and the St Francis crew on Oliver, Grease and Buralga, amongst other things.

Back then her roles were mainly stage management, but as an artist, an arts and textile student of the 70’s and an art teacher – and someone who has always had an eye for fabric, texture and style herself – Robyn says she is relishing this chance to be involved in costuming.

“My dear friend Jeanette Petts did costuming for Grease and Oliver – and her support now is invaluable. Right from her days of running the Nutshell Boutique, Nettie has always been a style icon in town, and her eye for putting fabrics and textures together is par excellence.”

“And bringing the Costume Dream Team together with our Designer Simon Greer has been great. I personally am loving working with him. We’ve built wonderful rapport – working with someone of his experience has been a real highlight.”

The production cast had their first costume fitting at rehearsals on Sunday February 28 – where all the basic shirts and pants of the costume layering were finalized. All the cast generously gave up their lunch break to undergo the rigorous fitting process scrutinised by an exacting Fiona Stevens. Fiona learned her eye for sewing precision and detail at the hand of her mother – who would make her unpick anything that wasn’t perfect.  Such is the path to greatness!

Below is a list of clothing items Robyn and her team are hoping to acquire from the community in the next week. Please bring items into the Leeton Museum and Gallery, or drop them off at Breed and Hutchinson opposite The Wade Hotel, or call Robyn on 0400481979. There will be a little piece of lots of people in this production – a true community creation.

Henry V Garment List.

  1. Large men’s grey or black tracksuit pants
  2. Large men’s black chinos.
  3. Men’s black or grey hoodies.
  4. Tartan rugs or throws.
  5. Men’s three quarter/length or full-length black jackets, coats or dressing gowns.
  6. Black, grey, or charcoal blankets. Can be textured, furry, twilled, worsted or heavy weave but not shiny on both sides or sheer.
  7. Heavy cotton, linen-look, metallic weave or calico/canvas type fabric (furnishing fabrics/old curtains?) suitable for sewing.
  8. Heavy black, grey or brown knit/ribbed jumpers or vests.
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