This semester, senior Theatre for Youth major Abigayle DeBusk was given the opportunity to costume the production “The Wind in the Willows.” Adapted by Moses Goldberg from the classic book of the same name, this magical show features a menagerie of animal characters with more than a few twists on the original tale.
DeBusk described the play as a short, cute children’s play about the trials of friendship.
“‘The Wind in the Willows’ is about being there for your friends even when you’re having a bad day, or when they are not being the nicest, and working through those problems together and finding a solution,” DeBusk said.
DeBusk held preliminary meetings with the show’s director, Professor Laura Byland, to discuss her vision for the show. The first order of business was to select a time period that complemented the play’s theme, so that DeBusk could begin the design process.
“She wanted to make sure that there was a setting that showed a class difference,” DeBusk said. “We landed on the 1920s, which is super fun. [Byland] has directed this play a few times, and this is a different route than she’s done before which is exciting.”
Embracing the 1920s setting, DeBusk melded the director’s ideas with her own and created vision boards. Her concepts received approval from Samford costume professor Mary Gurney as well as Byland, and DeBusk began sketching and creating colored renderings.
DeBusk initiated the process of designing each character with the creation of a unique color palette. Because most of the characters are animals, the palette started with brown, then DeBusk selected a secondary color and began layering details. DeBusk explained this process using the character Otter as an example.
“For Otter, I chose yellow, which looks amazing on the actor,” DeBusk said. “I ended up adding a few little otter textures, so we have a fish bone on her outfit because she’s been eating her fish while she’s been out swimming.”
To create the costumes, DeBusk spent over six hours sifting through the theatre department’s costume closet for any pieces that could be adapted to fit her needs. This process worked extremely well for characters like Mole.
“[Mole’s] outfit came out almost exactly how I drew it, so I’m really happy with this one. The only difference is that we went with long sleeves instead of short sleeves,” DeBusk said.
DeBusk estimated that 70-80% of the costume pieces were sourced from the costume closet, but more unique pieces had to be crafted by hand like items for the character Toad.
“Everyone is going to love Toad because he’s crazy. He has a lime green suit, and we handmade his sweater vest, so it was exactly what we wanted it to look like,” DeBusk said. “I’m super excited to see what it looks like on stage.”
“The Wind in the Willows” will be live onstage from Oct. 1-3 in Harrison Theatre. To see DeBusk’s creations brought to life, tickets for the event can be purchased at tickets.samford.edu.