Donncha O’Dea is an actor who got his first introduction to costume design from working with Whiplash Productions on their annual Dublin Fringe Festival outdoor stage combat productions.
Since then he had costumed many shows in Dublin. Since Broadening by Glass Doll Productions was such a collaborative experience in its development and rehearsal, and because of his close working relationship with designer Zia Holly and director Ronan Phelan, it was a natural choice for Donncha to design the costumes. Since Broadening. Donncha has continued to work as costumer with Zia Holly (FUSED), Ronan Phelan (Lambo) and composer Denis Clohessy (Animus).
From the text of the play we know BROADENING is set in the 1970s. Because Zia Holly’s pristine light-box set design responded to the social experiment aspect in the play, the costumes and props became the only indicators to the audience of the time period. Therefore the costumes needed to be authentic and look like their wearers belonged in that decade, we needed the audience to accept the characters in 1970s daywear as normal everyday college goers, and we needed the costumes to compliment the serenity of Holly’s design.
It was my aim to create costumes that the audience would accept straight away as 1970s, but then ignore totally. I wanted to place the audience in the 70s and then let the play do the rest. I never wanted the costumes to jar. I spent a lot of time rummaging through vintage shops and charity shops to find suitable items, and also was helped by the wardrobe team at RTE who provided us with actual 1970s shoes.
Within the social experiment in the play there is a box of 1940s clothing which is worn by some of the actors. In this case I still looked for 70s clothing, but clothing that had an air of the 1940s archetypes of Father, Mother, Son and Daughter. Agnes, the character who provides these clothes in the play, wouldn’t have had the time, money or resources to get authentic 1940s wear so we decided that she probably borrowed clothes from older family members for her experiment.