The Island • Massive Company

Costume design for Massive Company’s Nui Ensemble show, as part National Theatre Scotland’s ‘Exchange 2016’ festival.

Woven island stories of footsteps, friendship and family

We live on islands scattered across the Pacific far at the bottom of the world. Sometimes it can feel like we’re completely isolated… Six young performers share tender and funny stories as they navigate their way through what it means to grow up on islands. Family stories, whakapapa and memories are woven together through character, music and heart pounding physicality to remind us that should we ever feel isolated, home is no more than a few footsteps away.

design provocation and artist influences

I was influenced by the practise of artists that play with the line between the contemporary and the traditional. El Anatsui would take small found objects and weave them into complex assemblages, transforming and transcending the objects original use. Faig Ahmed disassembles traditional rugs and reassembled them using a contemporary flavour. Naama Arad shredded images giving them a new breathing and flexible life that was spacially dynamic and blurred the line between two and three dimensional. By breaking down an reassembling you can give something a new and modern vitality but maintain it’s original history. 

island mood board

I set two design provocations to the cast – the first was to visually draw their Pepeha and i later drew these into their costumes as a handkerchief that they can touch thoughout the performance, a sentimental signifier. For the second i printed out maps of New Zealand and got them to put a dot on a place they had been or has ancestral significance to them. I then drew these on the back of the shirts in the costume design, like it’s the star constellation of their home. By putting them on their backs it visually enforces the idea of looking back on the journey you have travelled.

direction Sam Scott & Miriama McDowell
lighting Micheal Craven
produced by Massive Company
venue Mangere Arts Centre & National Theatre Scotland ‘Exchange 2016’

photography Andi Crown