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Costume Designer Heather Langan at the Edinburgh Fringe

21-year-old Heather began studying BA (Hons) Costume Production at Arts University Plymouth in 2021 and took the opportunity to spend a summer working at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
<p dir="ltr">BA (Hons) Costume Production student <a href="https://www.instagram.com/heather.langan.costumes" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Heather Langan</a> worked backstage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a month, gaining invaluable hands-on experience of the work that goes into supporting busy theatre productions.</p> <p dir="ltr">21-year-old Heather began studying <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-costume-production">BA (Hons) Costume Production</a> at Arts University Plymouth in 2021 and took the opportunity to spend a summer working at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is the world's largest performance arts festival, between her second and third years of study.</p>
Heather Langan Portrait

Heather Langan

<p dir="ltr">“After attending the TheatreCraft convention in London, which is aimed at anyone wanting to work in off-stage roles in the theatre, I signed up to their mailing lists,” said Heather. “That was how I heard about the opportunities at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I knew about the Edinburgh Fringe already, but it hadn’t occurred to me what a great place it would be to get hands-on experience backstage in a theatre.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I made an application through the Pleasance Theatre Trust and after a successful interview was invited to work in the technical team at the Pleasance in August 2023. There were other roles available, things like front of house roles or working in the box office, but the tech team was the best place to get a real sense of life backstage in the theatre.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The range of skills that we covered was incredible, it all felt new to me and I learned so much. There was lighting, sound, venue management… I worked in a space in the Courtyard called Beneath, which seats 102 people, so there was a good crowd but it wasn’t unmanageable. There were four of us working in a team in Beneath and most days two of us would work together in shifts, working around 10 performances per day. The hours were long, a short shift would last for eight hours but the long shifts would last for 15.”<br /></p>
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Heather worked on Beneath in the Courtyard

<p dir="ltr">“The sort of work we’d do regularly would be to check the lighting, set up for the show that was about to happen, and be on hand with all of the props needed for each performance. Changeover from one performance to the next took around 15 minutes and while we were setting up we’d take turns working on the door outside with a radio.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The people who you work with at the Fringe, you spend so much time with, they begin to feel like family. It was easy to make friends quickly, working so closely together. I met so many people, lots of actors and professionals from different theatre companies. It was a great experience and definitely worth doing once, though now that I’ve been up close to the stage I’d want my next visit to the Fringe to be working on costumes with a theatre company.”</p> <p dir="ltr">One of the perks of working at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was the opportunity to meet performers and other members of various theatre companies, as well as watching a wide range of plays.<br /></p>
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On set at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

<p dir="ltr">“My favourite performances that I watched were Rubbish Romeo and Juliet by the Rubbish Shakespeare Company,” Heather said, “and another comedy called Burning Down The Horse, which was really funny and also had some brilliant costumes. Another amazing show was Bitter Lemons, about women in male dominated jobs, which was really dramatic and emotional.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Heather grew up in Birmingham and studied a BTEC in Art &amp; Design after completing her GCSEs. </p> <p dir="ltr">“That experience showed me that I really wanted to pursue sewing and costume design further,” Heather said. “I enjoyed the drawing and painting aspects of the qualification, but they didn’t drive me in the same way that making in 3D did.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I looked at costume courses around the UK and when I heard about Costume Production at Arts University Plymouth it really spoke to me. With family in Birmingham, it was also important that I chose a university that would be easy for my family to access. I’m so happy that I came to study at Arts University Plymouth. I've learned so much and made so many good friends since coming to Plymouth.”</p>
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Heather's costumes

<p dir="ltr">Keeping her options open for work that would be suitable for the theatre, film and television industries, Heather is heavily inspired by period costumes, sometimes leaning into the more fantastical elements of costume design.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I really enjoy period and fantasy costumes,” Heather said, “particularly when there’s an opportunity to bring in big skirts and corsets. I’m in the final year of my degree now so I’m working towards my final major project for the Graduate Shows. I’ve started creating physical interpretations of designs from Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies.”</p> <p dir="ltr">From script analysis to character realisation, BA (Hons) Costume Production at Arts University Plymouth empowers students to 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">The hugely diverse range of processes and media on offer makes Arts University Plymouth an exciting place to study costume production. Interdisciplinary collaboration is actively encouraged, particularly amongst students in film and other media productions, with unrivalled access to a range of digital processes, textile printing and 3D-making.<br /></p>
I’m so happy that I came to study at Arts University Plymouth. I've learned so much and made so many good friends since coming to Plymouth.
Heather Langan, BA (Hons) Costume Production student
<p dir="ltr">Arts University Plymouth was voted by students as #2 in the UK for Facilities at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024, and Winner in Facilities for South West England, celebrating the access students have to the wide array of subject-specific resources available across all creative disciplines. Students voted based on Arts University Plymouth’s cutting-edge resources, including Fab Lab Plymouth, diverse multimedia and photography studios, a comprehensive Materials Lab that supports innovative practices in hot glass, ceramics and biomaterials, and the university’s well-equipped Drawing Lab, Fashion and Textile studios. Arts University Plymouth was also the highest scoring specialist arts university for Learning Resources in the UK in the National Student Survey 2023. </p> <p dir="ltr">To find out more about Costume Production and speak directly to expert academics and technicians with a wide range of industry experience, <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/events/open-day-undergraduate-and-postgraduate-june-24">come to the next Arts University Plymouth Open Day on Saturday 22 June 2024</a>, from 10am to 2pm, which will take place during the Graduate Shows, giving an excellent opportunity to see the kind of work that our undergraduate students create. <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/posts/claim-up-to-80-when-you-come-to-visit-us2">We also offer a Travel Bursary of up to £80 if you’re visiting an Open Day or Campus Tour to help with your travel expenses.</a><br /></p>