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What to Prepare
For a Costume Construction entry, the Thespian must display and discuss one (1) realized costume execution for a character from a published work written for the theatre. Costumes for performances of original works, poetry, fiction, screenplays, television, concerts, or any other medium are not permitted. Only one (1) Thespian may be involved in the construction; no collaborations are permitted. Costumes for either theoretical or realized productions are acceptable. The Thespian must prepare the following:
- A fully constructed costume that reflects the Thespian’s capabilities and strengths, using a publicly available or personally designed pattern, for use in a play or musical.
- The design for the costume need not be done by the Thespian who constructs it, but it should be original to the production being presented, whether theoretical or realized (i.e., replica garments of Broadway costumes are not acceptable). If non-original material is used, sources must be cited, and receipts of purchased materials (e.g., a pattern) must be included in the presentation of the costume.
- The garment should be presented on a hanger, mannequin, or, if an accessory, in a box. The Thespian should not wear the costume during the presentation.
- A portfolio of support materials (bound or digital) that must include the following:
- Research, including:
- Summary of given circumstances from the script;
- Functionality requirements;
- Genre, locale, and setting of the play (or other explanation of the world of the play);
- Artistic and practical needs that impact the construction;
- Sources of inspiration for design and color palette (if used).
- Pattern used for the costume construction.
- If the costume is designed, developed, and constructed from a pattern available for purchase, the pattern manufacturer’s information must be included in the details of the presentation.
- Alternatively, a pattern designed by the participant may be used, but must be included in the portfolio.
- The costume needs to fit the person or model for which it was built. The costume may be designed to fit the participant.
- Itemized expense sheet with accompanying receipts for all materials used to construct the costume, such as fabric, thread, buttons, zippers, and trim.
- The total spent on all items used in the construction of the costume may not exceed $100 (USD), exclusive of the cost of the pattern (if purchased).
- It is understood that there may be an occasional instance where the total value of the materials used exceeds $100, but donated materials have been used. If using donated materials, the value must be determined, documented, and noted on the expense sheet.
- If showcasing millinery work, the budget limit is $50 (if submitting both a garment and millinery item, the total limit would be $150). If using donated materials, the value must be determined and included in the expense sheet.
- Costume production photo series that focuses on the process of building the costume item (laying out the pattern, cutting the fabric, draping the fabric, etc.).
- Include process photos used to document and reflect on the construction of the garment (i.e., not photos of the participant at a sewing machine).
- Photos must depict the garment at various stages of construction and should illustrate such skills (e.g., sleeve alignment, zipper placement and insertion, seam finishes, etc.).
- Include photos of the costume on the person or model for which it was built.
- Research, including:
- A five to eight (5-8)-minute presentation summarizing the work with connections to concept, collaboration, and design decision-making. The Thespian may use digital media during the presentation (the Thespian must provide their own equipment for viewing), or the Thespian may bring photo boards or other visual aids to display along with the costume.
- The Thespian should address general questions such as:
- What are some of your responsibilites in your field?
- How did the director's concept influence your work?
- How did the style of the play affect your work?
- If the production was realized, what challenges did you face in unifying the director's concept across all areas of your work?
- The Thespian should address category-specific topics such as:
- What significant challenges did you face while constructing this costume?
- Were you also responsible for designing the costume, and if so, why did you choose this fabric/color/embellishment for the character?
- If you did something differently than what the pattern suggested, why?
- If the show was realized, did you have issues with fitting the actors or with the costume tearing during a performance and how did you fix it?
- The Thespian should address general questions such as:
- An optional written essay response to share additional information about the costume with the adjudicators.
Slating: All Categories
Thespians must begin their presentation with an introduction known as a slate. The slate is not part of the performance, but is simply an informative introduction to the piece. This is an opportunity for students to be themselves and address the adjudicators in a comfortable, polite, and brief manner. The slate should include the following information:
- The Thespian’s name (or names, for group categories);
- Troupe number;
- Title of selection being performed or work being showcased (e.g., Belle's ballgown from Beauty and the Beast);
- Name of the playwright(s) and/or composer(s).
A slate might sound like this: "Hello. My name is John Smith from Troupe 561, and I’ll be showing you my finished construction of Glinda's Act Two dress from Wicked by Winnie Holtzman and Stephen Schwartz."
After the slate, time begins with the first word of the presentation. If a Thespian exceeds the time limits stated above, the adjudicator or room monitor will note the time and a final eligibility ruling will be determined. Exceeding the time limit may result in disqualification.
Dress Code: All Categories
For all categories (performance and technical), Thespians will present themselves at adjudication or in their submission video as a blank slate, refraining from wearing clothing and/or accessories that distract from the performance or presentation. The goal is to level the playing field and allow the focus to remain on the work, not the aesthetics of the presenting Thespian(s). Thespians should follow these guidelines:
- Dress in simple, modest attire suitable for a professional interview or audition, in black or dark colors. Clothing should be appropriate for the situation so as not to limit or restrict movement or affect the performance. For technical categories, Thespians may choose to follow the guideline above or wear the black/dark-colored clothing traditionally worn by technicians.
- Acceptable footwear is neutral, not distracting, and may include character shoes and dance shoes (if category appropriate), dress shoes, sneakers, or boots.
- Theatrical makeup, costumes, and props are not permitted.
- Avoid wearing distracting items such a large, dangling jewelry, light-up footwear, or fashionably distressed clothing.
Skills Measured: Costume Construction
- Sewing and construction skills including: application of sewing techniques, pattern use, fitting of the final garment to self or another model;
- Attention to detail;
- Ability to demonstrate an understanding of the artistic, functional, and practical constraints that impact construction choices;
- Ability to research and understand the connection between style, period, locale, genre, and other historical and cultural influences and construction choices;
- Ability to budget appropriately for the costume construction;
- Ability to document, present, and clearly explain and justify the process of constructing the costume and the costume’s functionality.
Costume Construction Rubric
Explanation of the executed design, unifying concept, creative decisions, and process
Presentation thoroughly explains the functional and aesthetic role of the constructed garment, unifying concept, and creative process, with compelling examples.
Presentation explains the functional and aesthetic role of the constructed garment, unifying concept, and creative process, with appropriate examples.
Presentation partially explains the functional and aesthetic role of constructed garment, unifying concept, and creative process, with cursory examples.
Presentation fails to explain the functional and aesthetic role of the constructed garment, unifying concept, and/or creative process.
Evidence of research of the given circumstances of the script as well as artistic and practical needs which impact the design.
Evidence of extensive research into the character, time, period, mood, style, genre, and functionality.
Evidence of thorough research into the character, time, period, mood, style, genre, and functionality.
Evidence of incomplete research into the character, time, period, mood, style, genre and/or functionality.
Little or no evidence of research.
Construction choices merge the unifying concept with the maker’s unique vision.
Detailing choices powerfully enhance and communicate the mood, style, period, locale, and genre of the script, and bring the character to life.
Detailing choices communicate the mood, style, period, locale, and genre of the script and inform the character.
Detailing choices somewhat communicate the mood, style, period, locale, and genre of the script and suggest the character.
Detailing choices fail to communicate the mood, style, period, locale, genre of the script or the character.
Connecting the construction choices with the needs of the production and artistic and practical considerations.
Construction choices are justified by detailed explanations of all budgetary, practical and artistic considerations.
Construction choices are justified by explanations of budgetary, practical, and artistic considerations.
Construction choices are mentioned with some limited explanations of budgetary, practical, and artistic considerations.
Fails to justify construction choices and /or connect to practical and artistic considerations.
Garment and products presented convey ideas and choices that support the script and unifying concept.
Garment construction and production collage demonstrates precision and meticulous attention to detail; expertly reproducing the design.
Garment construction and production collage demonstrates skills and attention to detail; accurately reproducing the design.
Garment construction and production collage demonstrates limited skill and attention to detail; and/or partially reproducing the design.
Garment construction and/or production collage lack detail or are missing and/or fails to reproduce the design.