Why costume making for a small town girl?
Great Lakes Education Fund supported Jasmin Gray is a first-year Fine Arts (Costume Making) student at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).
After exploring career ideas in fashion, it was creating garments for the stage that sparked Jasmin’s passion. Costume making is the art of creating pieces designed by the designer. It’s “definitely a career that not many people know about,” she confesses.
“With costume design and making, you are creating for a specific character, realising their personality, quirks, lifestyle, and background through their clothes. It’s a very personal and special thing,” Jasmin said.
On the COVID pandemic…
The impact of COVID restrictions hit hard when students weren’t able to perform major works/pieces as usual.
2020 was offering great opportunity for all first-year university students realising their potential. Then chit chat of a flu-like disease started. People weren’t shaking hands or hugging anymore. Rumours became headlines, and outbreaks became a pandemic.
For the first time, every theatre in the world shut down.
Jasmin believes the “magical” feeling of being present at a show and being exposed to characters’ emotions and journeys can never be replaced by the digital world.
What happens for a student in a very hands-on subject when everything goes online? For Jasmin, she was studying at a theatre school without a theatre!
Jasmin made this Black and White Labcoat which the ‘Lunacy’ character Dr Harbridge wore.
Coming from a small town, I had never even been to the theatre before moving to Sydney. I feel like I’ve entered this whole new world that I had no idea even existed, I love it.
“A ‘ghost light’ is an electric light that is left energised on the stage of a theatre when it’s unoccupied. Inspired by the pandemic, in this NIDA digital show you see famous characters, such as Hamlet, lost in the empty theatre, as they reflect and try to understand this new abandonment,” Jasmin explains.
“Being present is a huge aspect of theatre, which I don’t believe digital theatre will ever be able to replicate.”
I can safely say that online study isn’t for me. It definitely has been a hard year, trying to do costume making through a computer screen.
On studying at Australia’s most well-known arts school
For the first time, NIDA produced a Digital Film Festival. Jasmin says she is proud of the performances of Ghost Light and Lunacy which her pieces feature in.
She says, “NIDA pushes you as a creator and this is probably why they have so many successful industry professionals.”
With only six students in her class, Jasmin says it makes for a personal, one-on-one learning experience. It also means there are higher standards for her work.
Jasmin explains, “I came into NIDA not really knowing what to expect, just knowing I had some amazing subjects to look forward to and I knew it was going to be hard work.”
As she tackles the subjects from a distance, Jasmin is learning skills like pattern making, corsetry and leatherwork as well as the history of theatre and costume.
Now students and teachers are back in the classrooms which Jasmin said has been amazing. She looks forward to enjoying a more traditional ‘NIDA experience’.
“Being in production can be very demanding. We tend to live and breathe all things NIDA during the production season,” she said.
After the long digital festival hours, Jasmin’s enjoying a little normalcy before end of year shows which will hopefully be back in the theatre for safely sized audiences.