THE PAPER BOAT (2003)

costume design by Justine Shih Pearson

directed by Naïda Chinner
produced by Naïda Chinner at Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre

performers Kelly Alexander, Melissa Laing, Solon Ulbrich, Ingrid Voorendt

Naïda’s full-length work was made in residence at the Artspace, an odd-shaped gallery high up within the Adelaide Festival Centre complex. The audience sat in wooden chairs arrayed through the space, very close to the performers. A playful world-weariness, a slightly tarnished innocence and a storybookish sadness were hallmarks of the piece. I made costumes reminiscent of the 1950s and that era’s mixture of hopefullness and disillusionment, part circus in hard times, part child’s dress-up box, part faded glamour. Involved through the development process, I wove performers’ personal memories and insider conversations into the design through secret pockets and ruffles made of cut-out muslin leaves, repurposed prom dresses and hand-dyed feathers. All costumes belonged to the cohesive world of the performance but were individually crafted, including not only the main performers but technicians, operators and musicians who all inhabited the gallery space.