David Wenham being fitted for his costume for The Crucible by Cutter, Rebecca Cassin and Costume Designer, Dale Ferguson.

A special message from David Wenham

There are now less than two weeks to go until The Crucible officially opens at Southbank Theatre, we’re getting rather excited – and we can see from your comments on Facebook and Twitter that you are too! With a cast of 15, there are many costumes to create – and the level of detail going into them to get them looking just right for the late 17th century Salem setting is incredible. In this special message, David Wenham shares just how important costume is to actors, and lets you know how you can help us continue the tradition of creating our own extraordinary costumes for years to come, by supporting our Wardrobe Appeal.

It’s great to be back at MTC for The Crucible. There is a real family feel here and I am always delighted to see so many familiar faces, particularly in the Wardrobe Department.

For 60 years, MTC costumes have been proudly hand-made. The talented artisans that have devoted their lives to working for MTC make such a difference to the quality of the productions.

For an actor, costumes are integral in developing a character, informing their physicality and mannerisms. From early on in my career I have used costumes to locate the essence of the character that I am playing. John Proctor, the character I am currently playing in The Crucible, goes on an almighty journey and that is reflected in his costume and what happens to his clothing over a period of time.

Costumes instantly tell a story about each of the characters on stage. And from an actor’s perspective, costumes allow the actor to fully inhabit the role. So to have a Wardrobe Department that hand makes the costumes is vitally important; it’s intrinsically linked to the strength and quality of the production. Clothes might not necessarily make the man, but costumes certainly make the character.

Authenticity can only be achieved when you are working with gifted costume artists with years of experience and the ability to make garments from scratch. Achieving authenticity costs money. A single costume can take weeks to make. From initial concept discussions with the designer, through to sourcing materials, measuring actors, pattern making, cutting, sewing, finishing, modifying and then undergoing art finishing to make the garment look authentically aged for the performance.

At a recent costume fitting I was drawn to a poster of The Importance of Being Earnest on the wall and I was blown away by the detail of the costumes. Whether it’s the millinery, or the lacework on the collars, these costumes are so incredibly detailed, even from a distance everyone can appreciate the quality, and the way it helps the actors transform into that particular character.

And when these costumes have taken their final bow on stage, many of them go on to be a valuable community resource through MTC’s Costume Hire Department, providing access to schools, community theatre and television productions around Australia.

I invite you to help MTC continue the proud tradition of costume making for the next 60 years and beyond by making a tax deductible donation.

I hope you will join me in supporting MTC and perhaps next time you are in the audience you will look a little closer and applaud a little louder at the quality, beauty and intricacy of costumes made by MTC’s talented Wardrobe Department.

Best wishes,

David Wenham

If you’d like to show your appreciation for the costumes we create, and help us continue the tradition of creating our own costumes for another 60 years, please make a contribution to our Wardrobe Appeal. All donations over $2 are tax-deductible – and every little bit helps!


The Crucible is playing at Southbank Theatre, The Sumner from 22 June to 2 August.

Published on 14 June 2013