Actors are the most visible aspect of theatre. They are the ones responsible for communicating the story, ideas, and themes to the audience, but they don’t do this just through acting. One major way that actors connect to their audience is through the clothes they wear on stage. Because of the development of costume technology, actors are able to represent themselves in new ways.
Many shows depict the events of war. War Horse is a perfect example of this challenge for costume designers. Most shows have multiple weeks of performances and if the clothes are made hastily to give the war torn look they won’t hold up, but at the same time the costumes can’t look brand spanking new either. To overcome this challenge costumes shops can use simple methods like dying or shredding the fabric in realistic ways. Thanks to stronger, more durable fabrics costume technicians can build sturdy World War I uniforms and then distress them to present soldiers who’ve spent a great deal of time on the battlefield.
The puppeteers in War Horse were expertly designed to not disappear on stage by being dressed simply in black. These actors disappear into the horse by being dressed as humans who had a similar personality and status as the horse they are representing. Through this cleverly thought out process actors can present the story of their character more truthfully.
One of the most valuable assets for costumers is the internet. It offers a world of research for uniforms and the clothes people wore long ago at their fingertips. It is so important to have accurate clothing onstage to help the audience suspend their disbelief.
“Costumes say subliminally what they’re meant to say,” according to the costume designer for the film adaptation of the staged War Horse. Due to the improvement in fabrics, designs, and internet actors are able to present themselves in fresh ways to audiences with the aid of effective costumes.