What We Have Been / What We May Be
We've been meeting a lot of familiar faces recently so now it's time to head behind the scenes and catch up with one of the key figures at Bard - Head of Wardrobe and Costume Designer, Carys Hobbs - a bit of a genius when it comes to creating hundreds of costumes for us over the years.
1. When, where and what was your first encounter with Bard in the Botanics?
My initial contact with Bard was just prior to the 2009 season, when I was approached to join the company as Wardrobe Supervisor by then Head of Design, Sarah Paulley…I jumped at the chance and was designing the costumes for that season very shortly afterwards.
2. Who would you describe as an unsung hero of Bard in the Botanics?
Oooh, a toughy; because really everyone involved is….but I guess, if I was pushed I would have to say the whole production team, Giggy Argo the set designer & maker, Suzy Goldberg, Sam Ramsay and all the stage managers I’ve worked with in the last 6 years and Gordon and Jen. The hours that everyone puts in before, during and after the season are staggering. The whole team is like a swan; calm and serene on the surface, but we’re paddling like mad underneath.
3. Which individual performance by an actor has made a particularly lasting impression on you (it might be one that you saw, worked with or was in a production you were involved with)?
Another tough one…I loved all the performances in “Much Ado About Nothing” last year, it made me laugh and cry, and Stevie Clyde’s “Bottom” was fabulous (as it were), but if I had to choose just one, it would be Paul Cunningham as “Hamlet.” An entrancing performance, I could watch again and again.
4. Of your own work, what is the most fulfilling production you’ve been a part of?
I think, overall, the whole of the 2011 season (our 10th Anniversary Season) is one I look back on with immense satisfaction. Gordon and Jen put their trust in me & just let me go for it. I pushed the design concepts for the pieces and what was possible within our budgets. The costumes for “A Midsummer Nights Dream” were so fun to make and the design for Hamlet had such a lustrous finish, that every time I see the pictures I am proud of them and how both sets of costumes were integral to those productions.
5. Which Bard in the Botanics production or performance did you miss that you wish you’d seen?
I wish I’d been able to see Pericles in 2011. Unfortunately with my schedule and the amount of costumes that year, I couldn’t get to it. But I wish I had because everyone raves about it and the pictures are gorgeous!
6. Which costume (of yours or someone else’s) would you most like to have worn or is simply your favourite?
Ooh, that’s like asking me to pick my favourite child. I love them all…. Each set of costumes for each show has a story, memories of what was happening when I was designing, the first day of the season when I show the designs to the company and how they react, the first fittings, the first dress rehearsal; watching the actors settle in to them and make them their own. It’s too hard, I can’t pick just one.
But I can say the one that makes me laugh most was definitely Oberon’s sequined trousers….I’m not sure what came over me when I was designing them, but I think John P Arnold pulled them off.
7. What is your favourite spot in the Botanics Gardens, known or unknown?
The spot on the lawn where I like to sit for the final rehearsals, with my bag of stuff, my note book and my anti-midge “skin so-soft” spray. It’s where I finally get to see everyone in their costumes all at once and know that the concept is working. I always feel good once we’ve reached that point.
8. Bard in the Botanics has staged 24 of Shakespeare’s plays. Which of the titles we haven’t yet produced are you most excited about being staged?
I think, Love’s Labours Lost will be beautiful when it’s time comes, and The Merry Wives of Windsor will be a raucous event if Gordon Barr has anything to say about it. But really, I’d like to do them all!