'I'm Overwhelmed by the Building's Beauty' S a Fashion Designer Who Was; One of the Country's Top Designers Has Been Creating the Costumes to Help Celebrate the Centenary of a Welsh Theatre. Karen Price Asks Paul Shriek How He Incorporated Its History into the Fabric

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

'I'm Overwhelmed by the Building's Beauty' S a Fashion Designer Who Was; One of the Country's Top Designers Has Been Creating the Costumes to Help Celebrate the Centenary of a Welsh Theatre. Karen Price Asks Paul Shriek How He Incorporated Its History into the Fabric


Byline: Karen Price

AS a fashion designer who was renowned for his outrageous statement clothing, Paul Shriek was often labelled the "enfant terrible" of the industry.

But since the early days of his career, he's gone on to make a name for himself as an international theatre designer, working with renowned companies like Welsh National Opera, National Dance Company Wales, Scottish Dance Theatre and The Ballet Boyz.

Now he's been commissioned to create the costumes for a special production at Treorchy's Parc and Dare Theatre, which will celebrate the building's centenary.

Flights of Fancy will take audiences on a 100-year journey through the venue's history before propelling them into the future. And the elaborate costumes worn by the dancers, singers and musicians will feature images associated with the area throughout the decades.

"This is a real opportunity to help a community celebrate a building," says Shriek, who first visited the Parc and Dare last October.

"I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it. It felt very nostalgic for me as I was brought up in a mining town in Northumberland and watched buildings like that being destroyed over the years. But people in Treorchy still have their building and they can still go there to escape from everyday life and celebrate."

Shriek has collaborated with the show's artistic director Phil Williams many times in the past so the men know how each other operate.

"We understand each other and have an empathy for each other's work and trust each other."

The first half of the production is divided into five segments which each honour a period of 20 years, starting with 1913, when the theatre opened, to 1933. And for each era, the costumes have been created from fabric featuring digital images from that time. Shriek worked closely with digital designer Matt Fox on his creations.

"From 1913 to 1933, there was the suffragette movement, World War I and notable pit disasters in the area. It's very important to remember those people who lost their lives as many of them would have helped build the theatre. So the fabric prints include images of Welshmen who fought in the war but didn't come back. They're very poignant. We've used 21st century technology to recreate 20th century images."

The first section features a group of older performers - two in their 90s.

"When I first saw them in rehearsal it was heart-wrenching - they really take you on a journey."

Hollywood glamour is a big focus in the 1933-53 segment and many of these costumes were made by students at Coleg Morgannwg. "The first part is all about escapism and black and white glamour but during the latter part of that time, the country was at war. So Matt created prints all based on Hollywood but when you look closely at the costume fabric you can see planes dropping bombs."

Shriek describes the 1953-73 highlights as "David Bowie meets Christian Dior".

"It's more of an early '70s section with a nod to '50s styling," he says, pointing out it features plenty of denim fabric.

The next 20 years mark everything from the pit closures to the '80s pop slogan "Frankie Says Relax". …

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