C:\Users\Stephen\Documents\Correspondence 2015\SP logo.png

Silchester Players

As the road map out of Covid lockdown continues, we are looking forward with increasing confidence to our next production in Silchester Village Hall, the pantomime Aladdin to be performed in January 2022. We also hope to perform another radio play over the summer – watch for future details.

For the moment, this is another opportunity to mention some of our backstage activities. In this article we focus on costumes.

Most plays require specialist costumes. In some contemporary dramas the actors might be able to provide suitable clothing from their own wardrobes, although often something particular, such as a policeman’s uniform, might also be required. However, in many other productions, particularly pantomimes, a huge number of special costumes are necessary.

On these occasions Silchester Players have three options:

  1. use costumes from our own storeroom;
  2. borrow or hire costumes;
  3. make new costumes.

It may not be generally known, but we have an extensive wardrobe for the stage, kept in storage. This is in the charge of wardrobe mistress, Mandy Larby, to whom we are grateful for keeping cast members suitably attired for production after production. Over the years we have amassed all manner of clothing, from outsize dresses for a pantomime dame, to a collection of evening wear for refined gentlemen in a Noel Coward drama. One of the problems of lockdown has been our inability to access our costumes. Normally we select from our wardrobe as rehearsals progress and can check that the clothes have not become moth-eaten or damaged in other ways. Generally items stored in a chilly room become slightly musty and require cleaning before use. We have to hope that nothing more than this is necessary when our storeroom is opened up.

Sometimes we are able to borrow costumes from other local amateur dramatic societies and, in turn, when requested we lend our costumes to them. When this occurs, inevitably some adaptations are necessary and we rely on willing seamstresses to assist. Alternatively costumes can be hired from theatrical suppliers. We prefer to avoid this option if possible because it is expensive. However, for period dramas or where a specific garment is specified in the script, it is sometimes unavoidable.

Spot the difference! Costumes used in our 2014 production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night – hired on the left, from our wardrobe on the right.

For some productions we have to make new costumes. Often these might be skirts and blouses of the same material for members of a chorus, or suitably ridiculous outfits for comic characters in a pantomime. When this is necessary there is a large amount of work for willing hands. It is always helpful to have several volunteers who can use a sewing machine or who are able to adjust hems and waistlines. So if anyone reading this would like to offer some help to our costume department, please contact our secretary, Sarah Oliver, email [email protected] Your services will be very much appreciated, particularly at pantomime time.