Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Wearing Costumes

The lure is there, maybe a hold over from  childhood, maybe an inclination to the dramatic; whatever the case some people really like costumes.  The problem is they can take some getting used to if you use them to tell stories.
Some of the problems:
  • They get can and often do get in the way
  • They can limit the type of stories shared
  • They can be awkward and artificial
  • They can be culturally insensitive or stereotypical
  • They may signal a story genre or characterization not in step with the teller
  • They require a certain amount of 'stage presence' to carry off the look
  • Some will tend to expect an "outfit" from every storyteller
Some of the advantages:
  • They bring a large dose of realism to certain settings
  • They are dramatic and memorable
  • They support thematic stories all set in the same place or time
  • They lend themselves to teaching and story combinations
  • They bring to life historic settings or events
  • It can be easier to assume the "persona" and share stories
Where to find places to wear these outfits?
  • Local history days
  • Historic celebrations
  • State history sites (volunteer as a tour guide, etc.)
The first rules of costume storytelling -
1. Start simple to get a feel if this is something you might want to explore.
2. Go the extra mile to get well made costumes or accessories (including undergarments!)
3. Remember you wear the clothes and they should not wear you; aim for a large degree of comfort in the clothes.
4. Collect stories, songs, poems, games, etc. from the time period or place your costume reflects.  This will allow you to add an educational or teaching moment and help smooth transitions from one story to another for that particular 'look',
Safety Issues:
Can you see? That dramatic cowl or veil may look great but not if you trip...
Can you walk? Sturdy shoes for tours or walking over uneven ground.
Too dark?  Get an old fashioned lantern or one from a craft or garden store.  Can't use a candle ? In some historic settings you cannot use an open flame.  Use the LED candles instead (insert in a regular candle for a more impressive candle look).
Do you have a favorite tip or help? Leave a comment and share.

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