1.0             INTRODUCTION

1.1             Background to the Study

Theatre generally is an ancient art. Therefore, the art of costuming in the theatre is said to be as old as theatre itself.

Theatre is said to be a well organized structural building where                performances are carried out.

Costumes, therefore plays an important role in the actualization of a play on stage. As they are seen as the non-verbal elements of a performance, they   include the clothes and accessories carried by the actors and actresses on stage; they communicate hidden messages to the audience if well depicted or handled by the costumier. Another exciting career in the theatre is that of a costume     designer. A costume designer is the person who plans or designs the costumes to be worn by actors in a theatrical performance.

The shapes, colors, and textures that a costume designer chooses make an immediate and powerful visual statement to the audience.

The creative collaborations among the costumier, director, set and lighting designers and other technical crews ensures that the costumes are smoothly     integrated into the production as a whole.

According to Wilson (12) He asserts that;

Theatre is a collaborative art, where the playwright, artistic director, technical designers, performers and audience come together to make a theatre experience.



Costumes are complimentary theatrical elements with various functions; which deals with the personification of characters on stage.


According to The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (262);


Costume is the clothes worn by actors in a play or film/movie or worn by somebody to make them look like something else


Costumes are special kind of clothing’s worn by actors on stage in order to aid dramatic actions and interpretations. Costumes are paramount among    other visual elements in the theatre used in relating human experiences to an   audience.

According to Barbara and Cletus Anderson (20);

Costume is the clothes worn by actors on stage, whether it be layers of clothing or nothing at all


          Costumes can also be derived from every day dress or it can be symbolic; a dress made for a ghost must of necessity depart from the natural dress worn by humans, it is usually symbolic. For example: If a character is costumed in black tunic with horns on his head, by merely seeing that character on stage, what comes to the mind is the picture of the Devil. Costumes are the most    personal aspect of the visual elements in theatre. To members of the audience, a performer and his or her costumes are perceived as one, they merge into a    single image on stage.

 At the same time, costumes have values of their own, adding color, shape, texture, and symbols to the overall effects created on stage.

Accessories such as masks, walking stick, head gear, hairdo, make-up and    personal items like bracelets and necklaces, are important components of      costumes.

Apart from the theatre, most people think of costumes in terms of         the outfits people wear to parties, office, traditional ceremonies and so on.       

Like other aspects of the theatre. However, costumes play significant roles in daily life. People wear clothing’s not only for comfort but also for the information they intends to pass across to other people about themselves, such as; status, occupation and culture to mention but a few.

In order, for a play to come alive, the creative dexterity of both the       Artistic director and his technical crews must come into play in line with the   selection of a good script.

In fact, in the theatre, costumes are means of depicting character given            circumstance. Thus, they aid characters actions on stage, thereby portraying the proper character traits required of the actors. Costumes can be used to describe age of the actors, the period of the play, costumes can be used to depict moods, costumes can be used to distinguish occupations, costumes are a cultural     marker, costumes can tell the time and weather of the play, Etc.

Therefore, an actor costumes enables the audience to identify the character through appearance and also posse’s visual potentials of information’s which convey meanings to the audience. In plays incorporating history or fable or myth, costumes has the added function of providing spectacles on stage.

The importance of costumes to theatrical performances cannot be over          emphasized, despite all challenges and critical comments passed on the practice of costume; it remains the most personal and relatively non-verbal form among other visual elements in the theatre. Hence, it is necessary that playwrights,    artistic directors, actors, costumiers, scholars, theatre practitioners must revisit the practice of costume for better recognition as a form of art, that stands on its own; thus,   requires adequate attention. Play performances should not take place without consulting a costumier, who organizes a critical sections with the artistic director, cast members and other technical personnel’s before the actual performance. Costumiers are expected to make provisions for the required  numbers of costumes to be used for the performance; and it should be ready in good shapes at least a week or two before the performance day, better still they should be tested by the actors. Actors must not be left alone to source for their costumes themselves. Hence, costumes must be seen as an inevitable element of the theatre that posses the strength to inform and express the qualities of a     particular play performance.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

          Costuming among other elements in the theatre ranging from light, sound, props, and set design stands to have more distinctive features because it creates strong visual effects and also communicates hidden meanings to the audience to enhance the total aesthetics of a performance.

          Therefore, the major problem associated with theatre practice today      includes; the gravity of importance given to dialogue. Thus, costumes as a     visual element which would speak strongly about the actions unfolding before the audience are left out. Hence, audiences are bored with dialogues, which in most cases are forgotten within the time of performance. Within this context   also, some of the problems examined at a larger scale are; whether, the           costumes has used in the performance of The Gods Are Not To Blame depicts the historical setting in the play. How have they assisted in educating,             entertaining, and informing the audience and the society at large.

1.3     Significance of the Study

The study aim at facilitating and highlighting the importance and       functions of costumes as an inevitable tool in the promotion and development of theatrical Performances.

Secondly, in order to change the attitudes of costumiers, directors, actors and actresses, students, scholars and playwrights towards the use of costumes in theatrical performances. Costume suffers neglect over the years whereby much emphasis was attributed to dialogues and actions. Therefore, little amount of                  information’s and attentions have being ascribed to costume in most              performances. It is believed that dialogues and actions are of greater importance for a clearer message to be passed across to the audience. Finally, this research intends to increase the numbers of existing literatures on the discipline, in order to promote the interest in the field of costume.

1.4     Objectives of the Study

The primary objective of the study is to establish a more interpretative depth to the value of costumes in stage productions has seen in the performance of The Gods Are Not To Blame. The secondary objective of the study is geared towards interrogating the possible dangers that could be encountered by        costume designers in designing for theatrical performances in the nearest future. Finally, it also intends to broaden our knowledge on the aesthetics of costumes and the costumiers need for critical and creative handling.

1.5     Scope of the Study

          This research study is limited to the usage of costumes in theatrical      performances. It is basically a review on a play production that was staged at the Open Air Theatre, University of Abuja in 2014. The Gods Are Not To Blame written by Ola Rotimi and directed by Olympus Ejue.

          The research explains the roles or functions of costumes in Theatrical    performances, especially in educational theatres. Thus, the research also         involves a primary material which is the use of visual presentation. Since      costumes are visual elements the need for the use of pictures are necessary in order to aid understanding in my presentation of data.

1.6     Methodology

          In the process of realizing the purpose of this research, the researcher made use of the primary and secondary source.

          The primary source consists of the visual representations in terms of the pictures of the performance, references from existing literatures on the study of costume, journal, library and internet. The secondary source consists of oral   interviews between the researcher with students, costumiers and lecturers,  

1.7     Limitation of the Study

Certain setbacks and challenges are faced in the cause of study.            These challenges could be seen in the scope of study; as the research only    covers the University of Abuja, Open Air Theatre Productions.

As a result of the restrains in the duration of the research, the research study is restricted to the curricular duration of the university, which is Three semesters (from 300 level second semester to second semester 400 level).    This might be inadequate for an in depth research required on the study.

1.8     Definition of Terms


According to The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (262);

Costume is the clothes worn by actors in a play or film/movie or worn by somebody to make them look like something else



According to Wilson (12) He asserts that;

Theatre is a collaborative art, where the playwright,       artistic director, technical designers, performers and     audience come together to make a theatre experience.



According to Edward, (63) He defines culture as;

The complex whole which includes knowledge beliefs, art, moral laws, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society