Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BTVI students create costumes of bygone era

Costumes created by BTVI students for the theatrical performance of William Shakespeare’s Othello. Photo courtesy of Shakespeare in Paradise

Fashion students of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) are getting the opportunity to display their talents under the bright lights at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts.

Guided by chair of the Fashion department, Kathy Pinder, the students are participating in their first theatrical design project inclusive of costumes for the plays Othello and Once on this Island.

“We had to study the plays and we attended rehearsals once per week. We learned more about costume history and theatrical design,” said Ms. Pinder.

The students created 11 medieval garments for Othello and 12 peasant garments for Once on this Island, which are a part of the Shakespeare in Paradise festival.  Now in its ninth annual year, Shakespeare in Paradise features William Shakespeare’s works along with works from around the Caribbean, African, American and world theatre. It runs October 2nd to 14th.

The festival provided BTVI’s Fashion department with the finances to purchase the materials and notions for the costumes from Huyler’s Fabrics. In turn, the fabric store assisted by offering a discount to the students.

This is not the first time BTVI students have been involved with a Dundas Production. Last year, two students who were fresh off their Face Care and Makeup Artistry Course got the opportunity to be exposed to stage makeup for James Catlyn’s Summer Madness. Now, Fashion students are gaining experience.

“This is exposure they didn’t have before.  It’s good for their portfolio,” said Ms. Pinder, “they got to conduct consultations, as they had to interact with the cast while taping them up. It’s also the opportunity to use those soft skills taught here at BTVI.”

2017 Fashion Design certificate graduate, Dellrene Thompson, who received the Aliv Graduate Award of Excellence Cash Award during the May commencement exercise, is back at the institution studying towards her diploma.

“I am getting exposure. I’ve never done theatrical design before, so I am learning.  There’s also a rush to it; it’s teaching me to work under pressure. I am looking forward to attending the plays and seeing my designs worn on stage,” said Dellrene.

Marcaela Lett, who is also studying towards a diploma in Fashion Design, said this is a chance to go beyond commercial fashion.

“It is a great opportunity and I’m intrigued by the styles from back then. It’s a totally different era in terms of fashion. Fashion evolves, but it also comes back.  It is a play and a lot of people will see what we can do. I want to see everyone dressed in costume and see how they will play the part,” said the student.

Additionally, Festival Director, Dr. Nicolette Bethel and Costume Coordinator, Claudette “Cookie” Allen, expressed how pleased they are with the costumes produced by BTVI students.

Dr. Bethel said they envision a long-term partnership with the school.

“We are really loving this experience.  We want to institutionalize it – if at all possible.  We are blown away,” she exclaimed.

“The actors really liked what they got. We are finding it a very positive experience,” she added.
Ms. Allen, who has been a theatrical actor for over 45 years is pleased to reunite with BTVI.

“BTVI students created the first costumes for The Bahamas National Youth Choir, and that was over 30 years ago – and I kept saying, we should go back to BTVI,” said Ms. Allen.

“These students have now done Shakespearean costumes. That, in itself, speaks for itself. I am pleased – very much so,” she said.

 Photo courtesy of Shakespeare in Paradise

 Photo courtesy of Shakespeare in Paradise

 Photo courtesy of Shakespeare in Paradise

 Fashion Design student, Marcaela Lett is excited to be one of the designers of costumes for the Shakespeare in Paradise production at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts. 
Photo: Hadassah Hall

Fashion student, Theresa Bethell-Deveaux, hard at work as she is one of the students who has designed and created costumes for two Shakespeare in Paradise plays: Othello and Once on the Island. Photo: Hadassah Hall