Costume Making for the Amateur Theater Groups—Avoid Anachronisms

Nothing can ruin the sense of production actually being set in a particular time more than a glaring anachronism. Hilarious examples include a wristwatch on George Washington’s arm and the outline of a cell phone underneath Caesar’s toga. An Elizabethan lady shouldn’t be sporting a shoulder bag and that gal from the 1940s wouldn’t be wearing Niki’s.

You have spent a lot of time and effort making sure that your costumes are authentic for the time period. Don’t let mistakes like this ruin the time period you have so carefully constructed.

Some actors will insist on wearing their watches and carrying their cell phones and other devices on stage. To avoid this, make the rules clear from the outset of production. There should be no visible modern technology in plays set in the early twentieth century or before.

Having a trusted member of the production team be the temporary holder of actors’ watches, cell phones, I-pods, and so on can solve many problems, when people want to hold on to their items right up to the minute before they step on stage. The item keeper should make a note of everything that is given to him or her to avoid misunderstandings. Careful planning can help you avoid chaos on opening night and keep the entire company happy.