What I Do Series: Jess Wild - Wardrobe Assistant

What I Do Series: Jess Wild - Wardrobe Assistant

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 Jess Wild who is a Wardrobe Assistant here at the Octagon.

What does your role entail?

It's my job to help make, source and maintain the costumes for each production. It’s also my responsibility to dress a show and keep it running whilst the next production is in rehearsal/being made. When dressing a show it's my job to help get the actors into costume (including hair styling), to assist with quick changes, keep track of and reset the costumes.

How long have you been in this role?

I have been working at the Octagon for just over 3 years now. I started out as the Costume Maintenance Assistant, which involved washing and looking after the costumes for each show.  My job evolved into Wardrobe Assistant as I gained experience and took on more responsibilities within the department.

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

I studied 3 years of art at college before going to University at UCA Rochester, where I gained a BA(Hons) in Creative Arts for Theatre and Film. The course trained us in many areas of making and design, this included prop and set building, scenic art, model making and costume.

Last summer I took a 4-month sabbatical to attend further training at the Northern College of Costume in York. The course is an intensive, apprenticeship style training in practical costume making, I highly recommend the course to anybody who aspires to be become a wardrobe assistant or costume maker.

What’s a highlight of your job?

Being a part of such an amazing Production team. They are a brilliant and super talented at what they do. It’s like a family, you always know that they have your back and you can rely on them to get the job done, no matter how difficult the challenge may be.

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

I can't pick one! My two favourites are A Christmas Carol and Summer Holiday. I had a brilliant time on both, the atmosphere backstage was great and both shows were challenging and super busy. I had plenty of mad quick changes and running about backstage and even some stage management cues.


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

I recently saw SIX at the Lowry, it was fun, witty and energetic. I’m hoping to see it again soon.

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

I Capture the Castle was the first show that I dressed and I remember being really nervous because it was a big musical with a large cast. There was a particular quick change where I changed an actor out of a crinoline dress, it was just offstage in a tiny area behind the seating banks and I always got trapped there afterwards, in the dark, holding on to this massive dress, not being able to get out until the interval because the audience would have seen me.

I also remember that there was a day when a quick change went wrong, and I had to cut an actor out of his boots because we couldn't change his trousers without taking them off, we managed the change just in time and the audience was none the wiser.

 If you are interested in a career as a Wardrobe Assistant, we have included links below to some external sites to find out more:

Get In To Theatre - Wardrobe Staff

Get In To Theatre – Wardrobe Training Opportunities

National Careers Service