What I Do Series: Su Newell - Wardrobe Manager

What I Do Series: Su Newell - Wardrobe Manager

Have you ever considered a career in theatre but asked, what can I do? or what roles are available? Find out in our new What I Do series!

The theatre is a very exciting and creative place to work with an extensive array of possible career choices open to you.

Here at the Octagon there are lots of team members that work behind the scenes and we will be highlighting some of their roles in our new blog series What I Do

Each week we speak to a different member of our Octagon team who will give you a fascinating insight in to their position here at the Octagon and what they enjoy most about their role.

This week we speak to Su Newell who is a Wardrobe Manager here at the Octagon.

What does your role entail?

As Wardrobe Manager I am responsible for all aspects of costume, hair and make-up at the Octagon.  I work closely with the designer of each show either making, buying or hiring costumes, selecting footwear and deciding on hair styles.  I manage our Wardrobe Assistant and any freelance staff we have for a particular show.  I oversee costume fittings with actors, making sure they are comfortable and that costumes are prepped for quick changes, if necessary.  I also look after our costume store, making sure it is organised and the costumes are well maintained.

How long have you been in this role?

As Wardrobe Manager six months, but I have been at the Octagon since 2012 initially as Wardrobe Assistant and then Deputy Wardrobe Supervisor.

Did you undertake any specific training/get any specific qualifications to help you in this role?

I completed a costume making course at Northern College of Costume, an intensive four month course looking at industry standard costume making over three major projects.  I have also taken a lot of short courses – pattern drafting, corset making, wardrobe management, breaking down – and placements in other theatres.

What’s a highlight of your job?

Every day is different when you work in theatre, you often have to think on your feet and rapidly come up with solutions to questions coming out of rehearsals.  You are always working to the deadline of each show opening, which is thrilling and challenging all at once.  Seeing the end result on stage is also very satisfying, knowing that the teamwork of the department has achieved a great looking production.

Do you have a favourite production you’ve seen/been involved with at the Octagon?

Hamlet was great to work on.  It involved a lot of shopping for vintage clothes, which I love, and sourcing military uniforms, with items coming from all over the world.


Do you have a favourite production you’ve seen/been involved with at another venue?

I worked on Little Shop of Horrors at Storyhouse, Chester last year, which was an incredible experience.  We had a great team working together and produced some amazing costumes and wigs.

Can you tell us about something funny/bizarre/particularly memorable that has happened to you at the Octagon?

Many bizarre things happen when you work in theatre, especially backstage on shows but I’m saving them for my memoirs!