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Behind the Seams:

The Children's Theatre Costume Shop

November 20, 2018 – February 24, 2019

Organized by the Arkansas Arts Center

Erin LarkinThe Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre produces nine shows a season, six mainstage and three tours. For each production, the in-house costume shop develops all original designs and oversees the construction from the ground up.

Designers in residence, Erin Larkin and Nikki Gray, share the design responsibilities by alternating shows to meet the demand for fresh characters specific to each director’s vision. A costume designer begins by reviewing each page of the script. Following the script analysis, they meet with a production team consisting of the scenic, lighting, and props designers and director.Nikki Gray

The concept development phase involves visual research. In this stage, the designers assemble a smattering of visual inspiration rooted in anything from fine art, to period research, to pop culture sources. Costume designers look deep into a character's depth and motivation, with the goal of giving tools to the actor on stage via their costume. Children’s theatre lends itself to fantastical forms and exaggerated silhouettes. The nature of the genre gives the designer the freedom to play and experiment while searching for concept inspiration.

Next, our costume designers develop rough sketches of their ideas to share with the production team. After rough sketches are approved, final renderings are developed in color – usually in watercolor or acrylics, but they can also contain elements of collage, fabric, or other materials. As all the designs are finished, the costume shop and rehearsal studio keep a pin board of renderings and inspiration photos handy to reference as the show progresses.

Erin Larkin sketching costume designsThe design process is only the beginning. The next phase is construction, which begins with sourcing materials. While the designer hunts down new fabrics and vintage finds, the rest of the shop crew pulls from costume stock and begins patterning and preparing to cut, sew and fit the costume pieces onto the performer. Once the fabrics arrive, the final versions are sewn and built. Final fittings are then scheduled, just in time for the first dress rehearsal. The completed looks are accomplished with makeup, wigs, and accessories, each built to endure the rigors and demands of the performance. If all goes as planned, magic unfolds on stage opening night.

Hours: Tues - Sat 10 AM - 5 PM | Sun 11 AM - 5 PM      Address: 9th & Commerce / MacArthur Park, P.O. Box 2137, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-2137      Phone: 501.372.4000

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