Hansel & Gretel: Interview with Tim Heywood - Costume Designer and Head of Wardrobe

Tim Heywood, Costume Designer and Head of Wardrobe for our Christmas production of Hansel & Gretel, at Derby Theatre from Friday 30 November - Saturday 5 January, talks to us about his wonderful costume designs.

What is your role in the production of Hansel & Gretel, and what does that entail?

In the production of Hansel & Gretel I wear two hats – Costume Designer and Head of Wardrobe. Being the Costume Designer entails creating the shows costumes, and Head of Wardrobe entails sourcing, budgeting, hiring and buying for the costumes, as well as co-ordinating the maintenance of the costumes throughout the run.

What is your process when designing costumes?

My process when designing the costumes starts with reading the script and then talking to the director about the themes in the show and their ideas. I also talk with the set designer about how the costumes and the set will work together. One of the early research tasks I did was to google Rooks, as nearly all of the cast are playing Rooks in the production. Along with images of actual Rooks, there was lots of gothic imagery that I came across which then inspired my design. I thought about how the role of the Rooks is to story tell and move the action forward. So, I also thought of the Rooks as a travelling band of story tellers, a bit gypsy, a bit other worldly. I also thought about the root of the story being Northern European and Germanic, and that Hansel and Gretel are very spoilt children (at the start of the play) and so we looked at traditional National costumes.


As Hansel & Gretel is one of our Christmas shows this year, is there any difference when designing for a festive production?

Christmas shows are a treat, many families will come to see the show – grandparents bringing their grandchildren, and for many people both young and old it’s their first time at the theatre. So I want to give them a visual treat, so I try to make the costumes as exciting to look at as I can, colour, sparkle, movement, fantasy.

How do you make the designs practical for the stage?

There are many things we do –  rubber soles on the shoes and dress shields to catch any sweat. Sometimes we make an actor 2 costumes so one can be airing and drying whilst they wear the other. They all have multiple shirts and socks… nothing worse than trying to pull on damp cold socks after you have had a morning show and you are now dressing for the afternoon matinee! One example this year is that one actor who is playing two characters will already be wearing half of their second costume when in their first role.

Do you have a favourite costume for Hansel & Gretel?

I really like the enormous Georgian coats the male Rooks are wearing - one may go missing at the end of the run!

For anyone interested in working in costume design, do you have any top tips?

My top tips would be to be passionate. Be realistic, as it is very hard work. You need to be driven and keep working, as you are always learning in this role, and be excited by each new project.

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