Approaches to the written paper
Costume is a key element in any play and you will need to understand how costume enhances both the character and the play's interpretation.
Look at this typical exam question about costume.
Shelter is a character from the play StoneCold but you can use the information to answer on characters from your chosen play.
Describe a suitable costume for the actor playing Shelter in this section. In your answer refer to the period, garments, colour and how costume choice, hair and make-up would emphasise elements of character.
Now read the following two answers to the question above - which do you think is better?
The period of the play is the 21st century. Shelter would wear a coat and trousers and the colours would be dull. He wouldn't wear make-up because he is a man. His hair would be short. Shelter would look neat and tidy.
I would set my production of Stone Cold in 2010 and Shelter's costume would reflect this period. In this scene Shelter is going out to try to catch a victim but he must not appear obvious. I would dress the character in a smart black coat; he would also wear a white shirt and black trousers with a sharp crease down the front. His shoes would be highly polished. This detail would highlight his army background. He would also wear a grey scarf. The colours I have chosen emphasise his dark nature and would make him appear like a shadow as he hunts for his victims. Shelter's hair would be short and neat and, once again, emphasise his army background. The character would look clean shaven and I would use make-up to give the character a healthy complexion because I think he would try to keep fit because he is a man of strict regimes. The most important thing about the character's costume is that he must look smart and like an upright citizen - someone you could trust but not a mass murderer.
Which answer do you think scored the highest marks? Although answer one covers all the criteria, it is vague and lacks detail. Answer two shows a detailed knowledge of the character, his function in the play and any costume designer would be able to follow this advice.
Dos and Don'ts to remember when answering the costume question:
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