Costume Agency

Project Title: Costume Agency (preproject)

Brief description of the project:

Costume Agency is an artistic research on how the costume generates a performance, and what the agency of costume is. Our hypothesis is that through costuming, an image of the humankind can be envisioned. This time the costume designer will take control of the production resources, in order for the vision embedded in the costume to be fully released.

In the theatre, the traditional generator of performance is the text or the story. In opera, the music is the driving force, and in dance the movement is the centre of the performance. Costume is traditionally a secondary dramaturgical element in ‘service’ of other elements, often designed to blend in with the performers bodies or the scenography. But in postdramatic theatre and contemporary, experimental performances the situation of costume is different: it has become an equal dramaturgical element in the construction of performance.

Today we know that costume is an obvious generator of performances and other various forms of performative situations, both historically and contemporary. From the works of Loïe Fuller and Oscar Schlemmer to Robert Wilson and Achim Freyer, from Romeo Castellucci to Ida Müller in her work with Vinge and Reinholdsen, there are advanced examples of how scenography and costume can generate performances.

But how does costume generate a performance? And more general; what is the agency of costume in performance? These questions are at the centre of our research.

Our method is making performances of various durability and presentation context. The costume designer and dramaturge will have available recourses as space, light, music, performers and audience. There will be no directors or choreographers directly involved in the research, only performers as actors, dancers and singers in addition to dramaturges. The format for our research will be workshops, each with four performers for eight days, with two public open sessions of various length and extension.

Mainly, we will do try-outs where the garments are extraordinary in terms of the sensations created by fabric/ colour/ shape and thus generating movement and action. Costume garments will be prepared in forehand and explored, deconstructed, and again explored in new ways with four dancers. Partly we will do tests how costume cause dramaturgical change. Here we will use classical texts and work with actors trained in Stanislavski method acting, in researching how costume can generate subtle changes in the perception of the play and of the performance.

This project is a pre-research and the first step for the main project Costume Agency.

Project leader: Christina Lindgren