Costume Design

Costumes are essential for any theatrical production. The costume designer is responsible for creating the costume “look” of the show. Working closely with the Director and scenic designer, the Costume Designer uses their knowledge, skills, and experience to bring the Director’s vision to life.

Costumes refer to anything worn by an actor on stage. Shoes, pants, shirts, dresses, hats, socks, and even underwear. Make-up and hair, while part of the overall design, may sometimes be considered a different discipline.


  • Age: age group, time period, taste
  • Gender
  • Social status: economic, social
  • Occupation: where the character fit in society
  • Geographic location: culture
  • Occasion/activity
  • Time of day
  • Season/weather
  • Historical period: when did the character live?
  • Psychological factors/Personality/emotion



Lighting Design Key Terms

Lighting design: The concept that a designer creates to provide light onstage to support the mood or atmosphere of the play.

Light plot: The map that shows where all of your lighting instruments are placed on stage and where they will be lighting.

Lighting grid: Up above the stage, it is the system of bars and electricity that power the lights.

Lighting board: The control panel that powers the lights; when they turn on and off and at what intensity.

Cyclorama: The large white “sheet” at the back of the stage that can be lit or projected on.

Backlight: Lighting from the back.

Sidelight: Lighting from the side.

Top light: Lighting from above.

Front light: Lighting from the front.

Footlight: Lighting that is placed on the floor in the front.

Spotlight: A single source of light focused on a single subject.

Fill light: Lighting source that adds lighting in and around the set/scenery/stage.

Wash: A large group of lighting that can “wash” the stage in light that you bring up at once together.

Lighting angle: The angle of the lighting instrument in relation to the subject; usually 45%.

Gobo (or patter): A pattern (in the olden days it was a circle of metal) that blocks light to give you a shape onstage.

Gel (or color gel): The color that you want the instrument to throw onstage (or light onstage).

Setting A Scene

  1. Create a shipwreck: I would build a broken ship body out of large cardboard and foam boards and many broken scraps (gears, glass, boxes) scattered around the scene.
  2. A spirit character: I would create a light and flowy costume that mimics how a spirit would flow through the air as the actor travels on stage. I would design a pale face and mystical make-up for the actor so they would resemble the appearance of a non-human creature. I would also use ground lights that would shine onto the actors’ feet when they are on stage to mimic the ghostly aura. If a smoke machine is available, it would also work along with the rest of the set design to emphasize the mystical and eerie atmosphere a spirit may bring.
  3. Character imprisoned in a rock: I would build a rocky cave out of styrofoam and spray paint and place it in an isolated location on the stage that emphasizes.