EFFECT OF COSTUME MISAPPROPRIATION AND CHARACTER ANALYSIS FOR PLAY PRODUCTIONS GOALS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Costume is an essential feature of any dramatic production and with makeup constitutes total visual appearance of the actor. Costume is an important fact of living; therefore, it is not mere covering for an actor, thus, its essence is rooted in the fact that the actors wears it, moves and speaks in it and is continually within the attention of the audience. Costume assists characterization so that whether in film or on stage the audience can determine age, social status, personality, nationality, dislikes etc before the character utters a word. Costume also helps to establish the relationship between characters, the actors and the costume interpret the character. The importance of costume and characters in play production can no longer be over emphasized. The reason being that costumes has come a long way; it plays a significant role in our daily life. There is no culture, tribe and country that don’t have a costume. A people without costume would not be identified assuredly. The costume of a people like their culture is the hub around which revolves their world view. People wear clothing not only for the comfort but for the information they want to give others about themselves just like culture, costume can be preserved. Different countries, diverse cultures, each having their own costumes. Costumes tell more about a person or a particular tribe or country. For example, the Scottish men are known for putting on kilt skirts, the Africans have diverse costumes. Characters are the cast in the play. They range from the extraordinary characters to the dominant characters and minor characters. Just like costume, without characters a text or play cannot be produced. The book sorters and sortees by Jerry Alagbaoso is however the focus of this dissertation. The drama text is a social commentary on campus life in the university in the drama text, the play Wright projects the aspect which relates to costume and character analysis. Sorters and sortees is a literary creation which projects the various happenings on campus.

Background to the Study

Costume have come a long way, it plays a significant role in our life. The costume used in a play is used to determine genre. It enhances the aesthetic value of the play. The genesis of costume started from when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden; when they discovered that they were naked, they took leaves to cover themselves. Back to theatre costumes are the personal aspect of the visual element. Visually, the performer and the costume are perceived as one; they merge into a single image on stage (Corson, 1981) people wear clothing not only for comfort but for the information they want to give others about themselves. Clothes have always signaled a number of things regarding the wearer, including the following:

  1. Position
  2. Sex
  3. Occupation
  4. Relative flamboyance

In the theatre, clothes send us signals to those in everyday life, but as with other element of theatre, there are significant differences between the costumes of everyday life and theatrical costumes. Overtime, scholars from different backgrounds have tried to give the meaning to costume in different ways. But according to oxford advanced learners dictionary, “costume are worn by people from a particular place or during a particular historical period” to reflect their culture or events. According to Oshinebo and Abodunrin (2010) “the term costume can be referred to as wardrobe and dress in general, or to the distinctive styles of a particular people class or period in other vein costume can be seen or referred to the artistic arrangement of accessories in a picture, status, poem or play, appropriate to the time, place, or other circumstances represented or described, or to a particular style of clothing worn to portray the wearer as a character or type of character other than their regular personnel at a social or cultural event such as a masquerade, a fancy dress party or in an artistic theatrical performance”(p.142).

However, character analysis is another important element in theatre. It is simply the way a director/actor perceives a particular character in a play. By carefully emphasizing certain aspects of a character personality while eliminating others, the dramatist can show us in two hours the entire history of person will, it could take us a lifetime to know in the real world. For example, most modern creative writers have continued to use theatre materials to blend their modern literary compositions. Obviously, communication in the play production is therefore dynamic and complex than in everyday life or in any other art form. The play production engages itself in verbal and nonverbal communication process and costume and character are communication modes through which meaning are passed down to the audience. It is to this end that Hansen (1991) posits that;

“Anyone who wants to understand how theatre works as a form should be aware of the range and complexity of the symbolic communication which is necessary within even a single play or performance (p.7).

It is against this background that this researcher embarks on this research to see the effect of costume misappropriation and character analysis for play production goals. Because play production in educational theatre are designed as learning experiences or as instructional materials within the institution of learning” (p.143). It does appears that the major concern of most theatre practioners especially directors are in the area of costume design and characters so as to convey meaning and ideas to the audience. Also some performances use costume to enhance their messages, interpret ideas and display spectacle. After a production, questions that may arise from a director who is not satisfied with the costuming of her production are: why did you put on that costume as an old man or woman? Or why did you have to put on elaborate costumes? And many other related questions about costume. Many directors have failed in the proper achievement of costume in their productions. It is on this point that the researcher have set forth to investigate into the area of costume misappropriation and character analysis for play production goals using Alagbaoso’s sorters and sortees. The study will focus on how Alagbaoso’s had used costumes and character to embellish his drama text.

Statement of the Problem

Both costume and characters play a significant role in play production. Costume on its part tells the viewer the genre of the play i.e. whether it is comedy, farce comedy, melodrama etc. it also indicate the background of the play. While characters are the cast in the play. They range from the extraordinary characters to the dominant and minor characters without characters a play cannot be produced. In order not to miscast, misinform the viewers, certain measures would be looked to. Also the role of both elements is to convey meaning and interpret situations. The absence of proper costuming in any production denies the audience the actual interpretation, message and understanding of the entire play production. It is to this end this research seeks to solve the problem of costume misappropriation (improper costuming) in play production goals. The absence of proper costuming in play production and non availability of costumes pose treat to play productions.

Objectives of Study

The objective of this research work is to study the effect of costume misappropriation and character analysis for play production goals. This would show and demonstrate to directors and actors on how to combine costume and character to communicate effectively to the audience. It equally aimed at restating the fact that costume and characters are integral parts of a theatrical production so that theatre practitioners can abide by them to communicate effectively to the audience. It is also geared towards using costume and character as a creative elements that the directors use to analyze meaning, effects and spectacle. But the main point of this study is to explore the effects of costume misappropriation and character analysis in play production goals by plotting how costume misappropriation and the characters in Alagbaoso drama impact the readers.

Significance of the Study

The roles of costume and character in theatre are vital. The analysis of costume misappropriation and character analysis in Alagbaoso’s drama is expected to be beneficial to the audience and directors. Alagbaoso’s literary works are noted to be useful tools. This dissertation will therefore be useful to those categories of scholars who use Alagbaoso’s sole drama at regular interval.

Research Methodology

To complete the writing of this dissertation, two methods can be used to obtain the necessary information needed. The two methods are the primary and secondary method. By primary method, textual analysis of the drama by Alagbaoso which is chosen for this study would be analyzed. In Alagbaoso drama several theatrical production are revealed like costume and characters. By secondary method, literary materials such as journal articles and other documented works would be used. These would be complemented with discussions and interviews to be held with other students.

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