I’ve always been a ‘word’ person. Despite my greatest efforts, I’ve never been able to draw or design anything except a perplexing mess.
As a playwright, I create characters from words. I don’t create an image of a character in my mind except only in the broadest sense – a child; a woman of a certain age – the idiosyncratic detail when everything else image-wise is a blur. I don’t know what my characters ‘look’ like. I know them by what they say and do. I seldom plan a character in advance, but am constantly surprised by what the characters say to each other once I get them together in a specific location. Given the particular way I work, it was a revelation to be shown these costume designs by Holly McCarthy for my forthcoming production of ‘Cosy’ at Wales Millennium Centre.
Somehow – and this is where skill and talent comes in – Holly has read my play and created these clothed human beings – these tangible, recognisable people from the words I put down on a page. The process is nothing short of magical to me. And so it was with extraordinary delight I looked at her designs, sighing in recognition, knowing, like a distant relative you’ve never met but heard about for so long, ‘ah! So that’s what she looks like!’ Although Holly does not provide facial features, everything else in her designs give a clear indication of the individual, and her age, world view, sense of ‘self’.
The other week at the Welsh Theatre Awards, I sat in the row in front of Holly and was delighted, but not surprised when she was announced the winner of Best Costume Design. It’s fantastic that she’s been costume designer on ‘Cosy’ and I can’t wait what she does next.