Behind the Scenes: Journal of Theatre Production Practice

Document Type



Over the past thirty years the primary method of generating theatrical

costumes in Brisbane has changed significantly. Traditionally costumes were hand

sewn in dedicated workshops from original designs, with a few bought items to

supplement these costume ‘makes’. Now designers and costumers have become

shoppers, styling costumes from new and second-hand retail fashions, or finding

items from existing wardrobe stock.

This research examines why the primary method of costume generation in Brisbane

theatre has changed, and the impact this is having on the costuming industry. The

examination focuses on changes in the Australian labour market and the Australian

fashion industry. It uses Queensland Theatre as a case study, along with interviews

with industry veterans, to demonstrate the relationship between current costume

practice and these factors, concluding that costuming in Brisbane is highly

responsive to, and reflective of, these shaping forces. The research forms the

beginning of an academic and industry dialogue about a major shift in the theatre

industry that needs to be acknowledged. This shift is causing skills to be lost in the

industry, and raises issues applicable to costume generation around Australia.