Section 3 Project Proposal Aims and Realisation (approx 250 words)
In this project, I would focus on Japanese theatre. My starting point would be ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ which is a film about the life of the Japanese theatre performers. The reason why I chose this film is it tells the story about Japanese theatre performers (Geisha) behind the stage. It is good for me to study the characters and design the suitable costume for them. Firstly, I would like to study the story and characters in this film, including the time background, the personality of different characters, and their costume, makeup and hairstyle. Then I would do research for techniques and materials which are used to make the traditional theatre costume. I would also research designers for Kimono and know their inspiration and process of design. I plan to experiment with Chirimen (silk crepe), Koma-Nui (couching), Shibori (tie-dyeing) and Yuzen (paste-resist dyeing) because they are the traditional techniques used in kimono making. I would like to watch the film on Internet to know the background of different characters. I would like to investigate the traditional kimono for theatre from the books in CSM library. I plan to go to Japanese Rooms in V&A museum to know more about the Japanese culture. I intend to make a series of designs and pieces of outcomes. In this project, I could practice more about analyses characters and learn more making skills of costume.
After talking with tutors today, I found my theme of this project are too narrow. Tutor said it is not interesting enough if I start with a traditional culture, like Geisha, their costumes are already exist, it is hard to develop it. So I am considering change my theme and let Geisha be a small part of my project.
Section 3 Project Proposal Aims and Realisation (approx 250 words)
In this project, my theme is contrast in social status and gender equality issues. I am going to focus on two groups, which have different levels of status within them: the female Geisha (Japanese theatre performers) and the male offices in the Chinese ancient government. Then I plan to explore ways of creating a combination from the Geisha and Chinese ancient government officers.
I intend to experiment with ways of showing this ‘combination’ through dance. I will create a story with narrative, characters, costume, set and location, lighting. I intend to research stories about ‘status’ and costume designs that show the contrast of status. I have been inspired by the film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ which shows the different status in Geisha. I will then research how the different status of Geisha can be present on their costume, makeup and hairstyle. I will research the jobs, roles and costumes for Chinese ancient officers. I will research gender equality in Japan and China to get ideas for set design that can present the gender status. I will also research the artists and designers who work in the weird and creepy style for reference.
I would like to experiment with Japanese and Chinese traditional textile technique, such as Chirimen (silk crepe), Shibori (tie-dyeing) and Chinese Batik. I intend to do experiment with lights on the ideas of costume and set. I plan to use stitch workshop, casting workshop and wood workshop to do experiment. In this project, I could practice my costume drawing and making skills, and improve my ability of analyze character and story.
I have done the research about Geisha and how their status show by their hair accessories. I have got inspiration from the pattern on hair accessories, and I plan to experiment with embroidery to create the pattern.
I have found the pictures of Chinese Qing dynasty officers' costume and Geisha's hair accessories, and used these pictures to do collage. I have got 9 characters by doing collage, they can present 9 different socail status in ancient China from lowest to highest. I'm enjoyed in this way to find characters, but my drawing need to improve. I can try different kinds of drawing materials next time.
Unit 7 interim reflection and evaluation
In this project, my theme is contrast in social status and gender equality issues. I am going to focus on two groups, which have different levels of status within them: the female Geisha (Japanese theatre performers) and the male offices in the Chinese ancient government. I have done research about both Geisha and Chinese Qing dynasty officers, and I found they could both show their status by different hair accessories. I have used pictures of hair accessories and costume from Geisha and Chinese officers to do collage and get characters that can present different status. I found it is a good way for me to create characters and design their costumes. I can get inspiration from my research and develop it into my own thing. The good experience is I have a broader thinking process in this project. I get to know that the process of doing sketchbook in my previous project are too simple and doesn’t have a broad thinking to develop my idea. So there are always little things to see in my sketchbook. In this project, I try to link one idea with another and get inspiration from it. I think keep on doing research is important for me to have broader ideas. I have learnt to consider characters and narrative in every step I have done. I have learnt to use the process in sketchbook to show a story and different characters. The bad thing is I have change the direction from costume to theatre design, I don’t know whether I should design the costume and set at the same time or do it separately. And the things I have to do in theatre design are too broad, I need to select things in every step I have done. So I have spent lots of time to think and didn’t manage my time reasonably. I would like to change spent time on thinking into spent time on drawing and making. Because only if I draw and make the things, I can know that I should do next. I can ask tutors for help next time, it will save my time to develop the ideas. I plan to make my collage characters into 3D by making a dioramas, it can easily show a story and different characters. I might also use this way to do my final outcome, because it’s very suitable for theatre design.
Today I have used the stitch workshop to do experiment with fabric. I'm satisfied with the outcome I have made, it looks like what I want to make. Based on this experiment, I can develop my design sketch and try to do dyeing on the fabric.
I have found the story 'Reign Behind A Curtain' as historical background for this project, and i chose Empress Dowager Cixi as the main character in this project. The reason why i choose this story and character is that it emphasize the unusual situation of a female empress being in control, having authority over the whole empire. I think it can show the traditional social classes in antient China clearly. I used storyboarding to present the story, I'm pleased to use this way. I can show the whole story very quickly by simple drawing.
I used cardboard to make a small dioramas as test. I cut the cardboard into the shape of different characters, and then paste the picture of my collages on the cardboard to get puppets. I think it is more realistic to make the characters into flat rather than make costumes and puppets by fabric, because I have nine characters to show in my final piece, I might not have enough time to make nine cotumes by fabric.
Today I have the interview with Karen again and got the offer for theatre design. I found i'm interesting in drawing storyboard, analysing characters and making 3D experiments. I might focus more on these things in the rest of this project. The sets need to develop, I might research more about the traditional palace in China.
I used numerous lighting experiments on the small dioramas. I projected lights from different direction to focus on different characters, because i think audience will put more attention on the brighter part on the stage. I also experiment with orange light, it shows better effect than the white light. It give the stage a magical atmosphere. But it is hard to focus orange light on specific character.
I have researched the traditional costumes of empress Cixi, and I finally chose the costume for her to wear in the imperial court. I think it is the most suitable costume to show her status and the power she have controled. I have also experiment with Chinese tradition shadow puppet. I have make Cixi into a shadow puppet and control it behind a white transparent screen. It shows a good effect, but the puppet is not very easy to control and the costume can't show very clear.
Based on the problem of shadow puppet, I developed it into control by sticks and fishing line on the top of the puppet. I got inspiration from the patterns on Cixi's costume(dragon) to design the sets. I also researched the traditional sets in Chinese palace as reference and develop it into the sets that can put on the stage. I think my process of designing the sets is incomplete, I have put too much attention and time on designing costume and analysis characters and story. I think I need to improve my time management in the future.
I begin to make my final outcomes from today. Firstly, I have maken a big stage in wood workshop with technician's help. The stage is big enough to play the puppets on it. But it is too heavy to carry by myself, I need someone else help me to move it. At this weekend I will buy the black wood paint to paint on the wood stage.
I tried to make the stairs on the stage by wood at first, but then I realize it might take me 2 or 3 days to make it, because some machine in wood workshop has broken down, and we have to cut the wood by hand. Then I decided to make the stair by cardboard, and make the other simple sets by wood. When I'm making the sets by wood, I came across some technical problem that I haven't been consider before. But with the technician's help, I finally work out it.
I have made the nine characters and emperor by plastic paper, and then used acrylic, watercolor and crayon to paint the costumes for them. Every plastic characters can move their arms and head. I'm satisfied with the final pieces of characters. It can be controled easily and the costumes can show clearly as I draw on my sketchbook.
I have photographed my final outcomes today, and I 'm satisfied with it. Although I haven't got enough time to use light on it and make a film, it can still present my ideas clearly. The stairs are not very well-make, I should leave more time for making the final outcomes.
Initially I found choosing a suitable theme difficult when writing my brief. I chose Japanese traditional theatre design at first, but found developing ideas for it difficult as it was too focused and possibly too narrow. After research in the library, I finally chose social status as my theme. I researched it extensively in order to write my brief, however found choosing my own theme made it easier.
In my proposal, I focused on contrast in social status and gender equality issues by comparing and combining the Geisha and Chinese ancient government officers. I researched gender equality in Japan and China to get ideas for a set design that can represent the gender status. But when working on my project, I decided to only focus on Chinese ancient government officers and use the idea of Geisha as my starting point.
Geishas (Japanese theatre performers) and Chinese Qing dynasty officers have inspired my project. By researching them, I found they both show their status using specific hair accessories. Then I collaged found images of hair accessories and costumes from Geisha and Chinese officers; these collages developed into costume designs for a number of historical characters. I became fascinated with the history of Qing dynasty, especially the story of Cixi (the Empress Dowager in Qing dynasty). She became the focus of my final outcome: theatre dioramas designed for Chinese puppetry. The puppet show tells the story about the government of Qing dynasty, emphasizing the unusual situation of a female empress being in control, having authority over the whole empire. I have experimented with Chinese shadow puppetry. I considered making both the characters and setting into shadow puppets and making a screen in front of it. The final outcome would be a film, in which the shadow puppets would be controlled to perform the story behind the screen. But I think it is not interesting enough to use an existing form to make my final outcome. I also experimented with making a diorama by using cardboard. Finally I decide to combine these two experiments and develop it into my final idea. I used wood, clay and cardboard to make the sets, and plastic paper and stick to make the puppets.
I haven’t used InDesign before. At first, I found it hard to use, because I didn’t know where to begin. But after I attended the workshop of introducing InDesign and did some experiment with it, I became familiar with it. I think it is a good experience to use InDesign. I might still use it to make publication in the future. My time management is not very good. I have put most of my time on analyzing characters and design costumes, and left limited time to do set design. So I think the process of designing sets is incomplete. I used reflective journal everyday to look at and evaluate my work and find areas that I can develop.
The main difficulty during the project is that I have just changed my pathway from costume design into theatre design. So this is my first project that focuses on theatre design. I was not very sure about the process of doing theatre design at first, but after I taken advices from different tutors, it is getting better. I think my final outcome is successful because it can show serious atmosphere like the Chinese ancient palace. I am also satisfied with the process of developing ideas into final idea. Through doing this project, I have learned to use storyboarding to present the story, use collage to get characters and use InDesign to make publication.
If I could do the project again, I will make the final outcome smaller and make more scenes to show the story.
HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF WRITING UPUR OWN BRIEF ?
I think it is hard to decide my own project title, because it can neither be too broad nor too narrow. I need to research various of information to see what I can do in this project.
WHAT IMPROVEMENTS HAVE YOU BEEN SUGGESTED TO MAKE YOUR PROPOSAL?
I have been suggested to think about what I am gonna make at the end of this project, but not to write it in a very specific way. I have also been suggested to find more modern artist who are related to my project.
WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO RESEARCH AT THE START OF THE PRJECT?
I plan to research about the 'Memoirs of a Geisha' which is a film about the life of the Japanese theatre performers.
HOW WILL YOU CONDUCT FURTHER RESEARCH/ACTIVITIES?
I will further research about the Geisha and their traditional costume, make up and hairstyle.
I have had a interview with Karen on 23 July. In this interview, I have agreed a change in direction from costume to theatre design. I need to develop my proposal to make my idea relate to these area: narrative, characters, costume, set/location, lighting. I get to know the problem with my sketchbook is I didn't develop my idea into many different direction, the process of developing ideas are too simple.
After talking with tutors, I was suggested to use collage to find characters and then make the collages into 3D, like dioramas. I have research about the Chinese ancient gevernment, specifically Qing dynasty. The different status of officers can also shown by their accessories on their hats.