RADA's Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Costume is a specialised course in our Technical Theatre Arts department, offering training in all areas of costume-making and wardrobe supervision, leaving students well-equipped for a career in costume. We spoke to recent graduate Florence Dempster and Head of Wardrobe Diane Favell about what the course offers.
As a postgraduate qualification, the course is aimed at people with a related first degree and/or practical experience who are looking for greater skills, experience and confidence in costume and wardrobe. "This is a course for someone who already has a fair idea of theatre and screen and the role of a wardrobe department within it, has some skills and who is excited by the thought of being involved in bringing costumes to the stage or screen", says Diane. Florence applied for the course after working as a dresser: "Before studying the postgraduate diploma I completed an art foundation at Chichester College, and then spent two years as a dresser at Chichester Festival Theatre. I got to work on productions including Guys and Dolls and Gypsy before they transferred to the West End, which is when I became interested in studying costume as I realised I wanted develop my knowledge in order to progress further into the industry. I decided to apply for the postgraduate programme at RADA after a few years of working as a dresser. I had strong sewing skills which I developed through my A level textiles and personal projects and a love of theatre so it seemed like a natural progression.
I really struggled after my art foundation when applying for universities, as none of the courses on offer really gave me what I was looking for. I was able to apply for RADA based on experience in the industry rather than having an undergraduate degree, which is one of the things I think is so great about this course. It opens applications up to a whole group of people who otherwise wouldn't get the opportunity. There really was only one option as nowhere else offered the hands-on training that RADA does. To me it really appealed that there wasn't a design element to the course, but purely a focus on running wardrobe, supervision and making. There is a lot of freedom to choose your own projects and work within the course to make things you are interested in. We got to work closely with all the other departments as well as professional directors and designers where you are given total responsibility, which was very daunting to start with, but absolutely the best way to learn."