Published on June 29, 2022
Playwright Jen Diamond said, “…seeing and making theatre is a communal experience”, and this is certainly true of the HVGS process when it comes to staging our annual school production.
The performing arts hold a special place in every community, providing an essential sense of connection – and not only for the student performers. The benefits of the performing arts on students’ sense of connectedness and belonging at school is well documented, but when other members of the school community can engage in the arts, those benefits extend beyond the student experience, and have a ripple effect on staff and parents, too.
School productions at HVGS authentically connect our community members to each other, to students’ talents and strengths and to powerful shared experiences that can collectively move, entertain, humour, and provoke us; thus, bringing us closer.
This year’s production of The Addams Family is a celebration of our school community coming together to co-create a magical world where collaboration and cooperation are literally, ‘up in lights’ for all to see. It’s a true partnership between staff and students (and their dutiful and supportive families) that enriches the fabric of our School.
Matilda Fortune Head of Costumes for The Addams Family, is currently in Year 10. She has been involved in HVGS productions since starting Senior School. For Matilda, connection is key to her involvement.
“Working so closely with everyone allows me to build up friendships and connections that I otherwise would not have,” says Matilda.
“We develop a respect for each other, and we know everyone involved is important and feels safe, supported and loved.”
It is no small feat to bring a school musical from script to stage. What the audience enjoys is the culmination of months of hard work behind the scenes. It is this hard work and shared sense of accountability that bond the cast and crew through the process.
Hamish Coates who plays Gomez Addams, finds that it’s the hard work that delivers the biggest sense of achievement. “I have always found school difficult and playing a character, is still hard work, but learning lines is easier than learning formulas. The performance at the end is worth the hard work.”
After two years of limited opportunity to engage in performance, the curtain could finally rise on The Addams Family – and it did not disappoint.
The hype around the show and a desire for students and adults to reconnect to the arts post-pandemic, emphasised how vital school productions are for our School. The Addams Family opened to three sold out shows (plus a waitlist) and sent a kooky, spooky, excitable buzz through the School – the type of buzz that only musical theatre can generate.
From the on-stage performances to the set, sound, costumes, props, and lighting, The Addams Family surpassed all expectations. The performers and the production crew should feel an incredible sense of pride and joy in their work.
The Addams Family is a show about family, about having each other’s back and growing and changing together. For our student cast and crew it’s a matter of life imitating art because it is the kinship and connection with their theatre family that will endure long after the final curtain.
Behind the curtain with Matilda Fortune, Head of Costumes
The Addams Family are certainly unique, and their costumes are iconic. Charged with one of the most important aspects of the performance – the costuming, Matilda capably balanced the nostalgia of the old with fresh take for a new audience. We caught up with Matilda to hear more about her role as Head of Costumes.
What is your role?
I am Head of Costumes and I ensure that the costumes fit, that all pieces are accounted for, and that everyone is comfortable and happy. It is my first role working backstage in a production, but I have had a great crew to work with.
Tell us more about the costumes.
The costumes for this musical are outstanding, and everyone has a unique look to match their equally unique character. It’s been a lot of fun working on these looks.
Just some of the outstanding costumes are below.
Why does costuming interest you?
I have always had a love for costumes as the detail that are put into musical theatre costumes astounds me. I pursued costuming at school because I saw a problem and wanted to fix it. I have been in productions before when I have been the only person without a costume because it would not fit, and it is an awful feeling – like it’s your fault.
I wanted to ensure that the cast would not have to go through that experience without someone who understands and knows how to fix the problem. I want them to feel comfortable.
This is a big responsibility, Tilly. What do you do if a student is uncomfortable about their costume?
First, I figure out why they are uncomfortable. The most common reasons are they don’t fit – either the costume is too big or too small, too tight or loose or fits in some places and not others. Sometimes the costume that has been allocated to their character may make them feel less confident or self-conscious.
If the costume does not fit, I start by assuring the student that it is not their fault. If it is a minor problem with the fit often the costume can be altered, if the fit of the clothes cannot be fixed through altering another costume is found for that student. This can be a deflating experience but as a team of costumers, we all try and make the student feel cared for as part of this process.
If the student feels uncomfortable about their costume because it makes them doubt themselves or lose confidence, we talk to them to understand the reasons why this may be so. Depending on the reasons, we may source another costume or help them gain confidence by reminding them that what they are wearing is their character so they should not feel embarrassed or ashamed. No matter what the reason is, if a student feels uncomfortable, we make them feel safe, loved and enough.