After sketching out the overall feeling I want my costumes to evoke, it’s now time to get down to business and make some rough sketches. First, a few things to get out of the way:
- In looking up different productions of this play, I’ve seen casts using child actors, teenagers, and full-grown adults. That’s a directorial choice that I’m not going to worry about. For the purposes of this blog, I’m drawing all the characters as about 12 years old.
- I’ve also seen female casts of this show that feminized the characters’ names. Again, this is something the director would be in charge of, so to avoid confusion (and some rather silly name choices) I’m just going to refer to the characters by their names in the book.
The main outifts the characters wear throughout the show are school uniforms. It’s what they start in, and their ending outfits have devolved from this. So, I looked up some real-life school uniforms, mostly from Britain.
What I love about these images is the variety of uniform types, even within the same school. I’ve seen photos from productions of Lord of the Flies where all of the characters are in identical uniforms, and it just doesn’t feel true to me. It appears a lot of schools offer different options for their uniforms, and kids love to express themselves in any way they can, even if it’s by wearing a bow or striped socks. These are the kinds of details I want to use throughout my designs. It will help distinguish each character and create a more interesting stage picture.
I decided to separate the characters into three different schools with three different uniform designs. In the book, we know that the plane the kids were in held students from at least two schools: the school the choir is from, and everyone else. There could theoretically have been several different schools on that plane (the fact that Piggy and Ralph don’t seem to have even heard of each other at the beginning imply they don’t go to the same school), and I think having more than two avoids turning this into a situation where one school is “evil” and one school is “good”.
Below are some roughs as I developed the uniforms.
I put our three main characters- Ralph, Jack, and Piggy- into three different uniforms. I’ll explain more about why I designed each specific uniform when I do renderings of each character individually. But for now, there’s a few things I want to discuss.
Firstly, on a practical note, these three uniforms help to mark these characters as strangers to one another. And, for my presumably American audience, who are less familiar with uniforms, these designs break our expectations of what uniforms have to be.
On a symbolic note: when I was being taught this book, we learned it from a Freudian perspective. Our teacher identified Jack as representing the passionate, instinctive Id, Piggy as the logical and moral Superego, and Ralph as somewhat in-between as the Ego. I don’t know if this is how everyone reads the book, but it’s a helpful interpretation for me. So, to reflect the roles these characters play throughout the story, I put Piggy and Jack in two extreme colors (a cool blue for Piggy and a fiery red for Jack) and Ralph in something in the middle.
“But wait! Green isn’t in between red and blue! Purple is in between red and blue!”
Yes. Eell, it depends on who you ask. I chose to base this off of the spectrum of light, rather than how light works with paint/pigment. This makes sense to me because light is natural while paint is man-made, and this play is all about what you are in your natural form, removed from civilization. (I could have used yellow for the same effect, but I’ve found that yellow isn’t a very common color for school uniforms, and doesn’t read as pleasantly on stage).
I’ll be going in to a more in-depth analysis of these designs next time. I’m super happy with how Lady of the Flies is progressing so far!