Suffragist, activist and cyclist Kate Sheppard transforms from a face on the $10 note into a feminist firebrand raising hell in That Bloody Woman - a red-hot new rock opera. The smash hit of the 2015 Christchurch Arts Festival returns to The Court Theatre in Christchurch from the 2nd to the 30th July 2016. Rose Jackson got to question costume designer, Lisa Holmes, about her background in costume design and her radical sartorial interpretation of one of New Zealand's iconic figures. Glory Days also have two tickets to give away to a performance before the 16th July courtesy of The Court Theatre. Read on to find out all about That Bloody Woman.
Hi Lisa, do you have an early childhood costume memory?
We always had a big set of drawers stuffed full of old clothes, costumes and anything that could be used for "dressing up" as kids. My siblings and I used to get together with the kids who lived next door and put on crazy shows it was heaps of fun.
What inspired you to become involved in the theatre world?
I think there is a feeling you get watching live theatre that you can't get from a film. There is something magical about how it all comes to life infront of an audience. From a design perspective I like the challenge of having to visually present a character and also the excitement of delving into different eras.
What was your career progression?
I went to Massey University and attained a Bachelor of Design with first class honours in Fashion. From here I worked in the fashion industry and then for the New Zealand Opera and World of Wearable Art - both for Costume Designer Elizabeth Whiting. I shifted to Auckland to pursue costume design and have since designed shows for Auckland Theatre company and recently was the costume design associate on New Zealand Opera's production of The Magic Flute. Next I'm off to London to check out the costume industry over there!
Did you know that's what you wanted to do from very early or did inspiration come later?
I think I knew I wanted to design from my early teens - but it probably wasn't until I was studying that I knew costume was what interested me the most.
Is a career in costume mainly about what you know or who you know?
It's about hard work, dedication, creative thinking and passion for what you do.
What inspires you when you design? Is it the actors, the script or both?
Discussions happen with the entire creative team which includes all the designers and the director and from here you begin to go down a pathway - research then begins to inspire and influence my designs aswell as the actors who will be wearing the costumes.
How did you become involved in That Bloody Woman?
I am a freelance costume designer and so was hired to design for the co-pro production.
Did you incorporate historical influences in the outfits?
Yes historical referencing informed a lot of my design choices - Kate begins the show wearing pieces that are true to the period and her "gang" are modern punks but silhouettes and detail also reference the historical garments of 1890s New Zealand.
I love the punk vibe that comes through in the promotional shots - was it fun to combine rebellion of different eras into one show?
I found it interesting to portray both the juxtaposition of the different eras aswell as integrating them together to create the overall style. The audience needed to be able to read Kate both as a rebel of her time but also see her fight as still incredibly relevant to today's society.
What is your favourite thing about costume life?
The journey of the initial idea, to sketching and researching, right through to the costume construction, fittings, tweaking and finally watching the show open. It's always a different journey and full of excitement and challenges and fantastic people.
What is the biggest challenge?
Often the availability of products in New Zealand can create challenges and means you can end up having to bring in things from overseas- however this often can also lead to exciting discoveries of small NZ companies that you didn't know of before or pushes you into coming up with creative solutions where you make what you need rather than buy it.
Who and what inspires you?
I love to travel and explore new places and meet new people so I'm inspired by experiences, photographs and memories.
That Bloody Woman will be on at at The Court Theatre are from 2-30 July. Show time is approx. 1hr 40min with no interval. Tickets can be booked at www.CourtTheatre.org.nz
We have two tickets to give away to a performance before the 16th July. To enter the draw visit our facebook page and tag a woman that you admire before the 8th July 2016.