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Alumni shine backstage on Shrek the Musical crew

Alumni shine backstage on Shrek the Musical crew
<p dir="ltr">BA (Hons) Costume Production alumni <a href="">Zoe Brookes</a>, <a href="">Molly White</a>, and <a href="">Lucy Collins</a> showcased their talents by working together backstage in the enchanting world of ‘<a href="">Shrek the Musical</a>’.</p> <p dir="ltr">We caught up with Zoe, Molly and Lucy to find out more about how their journey studying costume production led them to work together again backstage at Theatre Royal Plymouth as dressers, why it’s important to say yes to opportunities, and what’s next for these talented graduates.<br /></p>
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Shrek the Musical- New Victoria Theatre Woking Poster

<p dir="ltr">After graduating in 2022, Molly White applied to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Theatre Royal Plymouth</a> (TRP) to become a Dresser, supported enthusiastically by BA (Hons) Costume Production Course Leader, <a href="">Marie Dunaway</a>. As Molly became more established within her role at TRP she contributed to multiple productions, including opening the tour for Shrek in 2022. When Molly found out that ‘Shrek’ would be touring again, she jumped at the opportunity. </p> <p dir="ltr">Whilst working for TRP, Molly had the opportunity to work at the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">New Victoria Theatre</a> in Woking, where she helped former course mate Lucy Collins to secure a role as Dresser on the show ‘The King &amp; I’. A few weeks later after being employed as a casual Dresser, Lucy was asked to work on ‘Shrek’, where she would reunite with Molly. Due to the large size of the production, Molly and Lucy were able to ask fellow alumni Zoe Brookes to join them on the tour, also as a Dresser. Having all studied together at Arts University Plymouth, and having shared previous work experiences, the three of them became a trio behind the scenes. <br /></p>
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Molly, Zoe & Lucy backstage

<p>Dressers play a pivotal role in preparing costumes for performances, aiding cast members with backstage costume changes, and ensuring the maintenance and repair of costumes. The dresser must adhere to the original specifications and appearance outlined by the designer for the production. The role of a dresser involves working behind the scenes, actively contributing to the upkeep of costumes during performances, ensuring they meet high-quality standards. Additionally, dressers assist actors with swift costume changes, ensuring a seamless flow during the production.</p>

Molly White at the Theatre Royal Plymouth showing of Shrek the Musical

<p>Zoe, Molly, and Lucy had the unique opportunity to bring their Arts University Plymouth-nurtured skills to the professional stage, as well each offer their own individual insight. As Dressers, the trio played key roles backstage, contributing to the seamless execution of the production and ensuring that everything ran smoothly. Zoe describes it as a special experience, filled with an exciting energy and a variety of costumes. She especially relished the quick changes required during the show. Molly found ‘Shrek’ to be one of her favourite shows to work on, appreciating the camaraderie among the cast and crew. Lucy cherishes the experience of working on a show that holds a special place in her heart, because it was the first musical she saw as a child.</p>
It was one of my favourite shows to work on! I have been dressing for a year, so when ‘Shrek’ came to Theatre Royal Plymouth, I was thrilled to be asked to help open the tour in July. The cast and crew were all so friendly, and I had many laughs with everyone. It also gave me experience working with new costumes that I hadn't yet experienced. When I found out the tour was going to Woking, I knew I had to go back and do it all again, and being able to work on the show with Zoe and Lucy made it so much more special.
Molly White

Lucy Collins at New Victoria Theatre, Woking

<p dir="ltr">The ‘Shrek’ experience was a transformative time for these three graduates. Zoe speaks of her immense growth in confidence, from the mix of nerves and excitement on the first day to feeling completely in her element by the second and third shows. Molly gained confidence in guiding other Dressers and helping Zoe through her first show, proving that each job leads to new learning opportunities. Lucy learned to understand actors' needs in a dressing environment and built trust with them, enhancing the overall backstage experience.</p> <p dir="ltr">As they reflected on their experiences, Zoe, Molly, and Lucy had valuable advice to offer for students aspiring to enter the costume industry. Emphasising the importance of saying 'Yes' to opportunities, Zoe encourages students to enjoy projects and maintain a sense of community. Molly stresses the significance of getting your name out there, keeping in touch with industry contacts, and having fun backstage. Lucy advocates for pre-study, self-trust, and the value of being a pleasant and respectful colleague.<br /></p>

Zoe Brookes at New Victoria Theatre, Woking

<p dir="ltr">The immense support and encouragement from the Costume Production course proved that Arts University Plymouth was the perfect choice for all three accomplished graduates. The dynamic atmosphere and the committed faculty made a huge impression on Zoe when she was looking at universities. Molly, originating from Essex, discovered Arts University Plymouth to be a nurturing environment smoothly blending her love for sewing and theatre. Lucy, from Devon, was drawn to Arts University Plymouth for its Costume Production program and the many facilities at hand to her. </p>
Marie has such a passion for what she does, and the diversity of the modules provided so many opportunities to learn so many different skills to find what we really loved within our discipline.
Zoe Brookes
Zoe Brookes with Marie and Jerry
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Zoe pictured with course leader Marie Dunaway & lecturer Jerry Moore at the 2022 Summer Show, Molly White's final work for the Graduate Showcase 2022 and Lucy Collins's work for the Graduate Showcase 2022.

<p>Beyond ‘Shrek’, these graduates have exciting opportunities on the horizon. Zoe recently finished work on ‘Pretty Woman’ at New Victoria Theatre, and is looking forward to upcoming productions in 2024. Molly took on the role of Wardrobe Deputy for a pantomime, capping off a remarkable 2023, and Lucy secured a Dresser position for the upcoming ‘Aladdin’ at Theatre Royal Plymouth.</p>

Zoe Brookes, Pretty Woman Poster

<p dir="ltr">From script analysis to character realisation, BA (Hons) Costume Production students at Arts University Plymouth develop practical and design skills for costume in performance. The unique strength of this course lies in its combination of technical focus with opportunities to experience the performance industry first-hand.</p> <p dir="ltr">To find out more about BA (Hons) Costume Production at Arts University Plymouth, the next Open Day will be held on Saturday 23 March 2024, with opportunities to meet expert academics, speak to current students and get a taste for life at the UK’s newest independent arts university.<br /></p>