College learners costumes are roaring success on national stage


A group of creative learners from a South Wales college have seen their costumess take centre stage in the bright lights for the musical theatre adaption of a leading animation picture.

Ten budding costume construction students from Coleg y Cymoedd have been busy bringing to life the popular characters of Dreamworks’ hit motion picture Madagascar for this year’s live stage production of the film at the New Theatre in Cardiff which was designed by Richard Embling.

The first-year learners, who are all studying a Foundation Degree in Costume Construction for Screen and Stage, were selected to create the outfits for the show, based on the original designs of the characters from the animation, as part of a collaboration between the college and Orbit Theatre.

The learners from the Nantgarw campus have been working closely with the college’s resident costume designer Richard Embling, as well as the stars of the show, to develop the challenging costumes from initial concept to completion.

Creating everything from fitted suits and body paddings to hooves and tails, the up-and-coming costume makers were also on hand at all times behind the scenes throughout the five-night show to make any adaptions or repairs, fulling immersing them in the experience of a live production.

Martha Okon, 20, one of college learners involved in the show said: “Working on the live production of Madagascar has been an incredible experience and it was amazing to see my own outfits in action on stage in front of so many people.

“It has been a challenge to produce animal costumes for a human body that are not only eye catching and realistic, but that are also durable enough for a week of activities undertaken throughout a pantomime. I have really enjoyed working on this project and the opportunity has made me even more committed to following my dream of becoming a costume designer for live productions.”

The directors behind the show, which follows the lives of characters Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo, enlisted the help of the college’s costume construction learners after being impressed by the quality of their work for other live productions in the Rhondda Cynon Taff area including Cinderella, Aladdin and [Dick Whittington].

The two-year specialist costume construction course at Coleg y Cymoedd, which is delivered in partnership with the University of South Wales, introduces learners to the cut and costume construction skills required within the areas of film and theatre.

Course leader, Emma Embling said: “We encourage our learners to get involved with as many live productions as possible to help prepare them for the industry and put them ahead of other graduates for employment. The collaboration between the course and Orbit theatre on Madagascar was an excellent opportunity for our learners, providing them with invaluable first-hand industry experience in costume creation.” 

Throughout the foundation degree, learners work on a variety of live projects to gain real life industry practice of costume design and production to boost their employability.  

Commenting on the professional and public feedback for the learners’ work, Emma continued: “The feedback we have had from the learners has been fantastic, as has the response from the general public and theatre itself, who were all very impressed with hard work of the students. Thanks to the success of the show, we are now in discussions with the production company regarding potential future projects to collaborate on.”

College learners costumes are roaring success on national stage



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