A Costume for Caliban

by Gemma Bayly, Head Student, Kaipara College

Earlier in the year, Shariah Brunton, a year 13 student at Kaipara College, entered the SGCNZ/ Dawn Sanders Shakespeare Costume Design Competition. For this competition, Shariah had to design a costume for a character from Shakespeare. She chose to design a costume for Caliban from the Tempest.
Shariah’s design was chosen as one of the four finalists in New Zealand out of around 40 entries. This meant that a costumier made her costume and it was modeled at the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare festival. As part of this, Shariah flew down to Wellington on Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Shariah chose to design the costume for Caliban because she studied ‘The Tempest’ in English a few years ago and knew more about the characters than other Shakespeare plays. Caliban’s costume had room for imagination because he is unique for Shakespearean characters. He is described as ‘swarthy, grotesque, half-fish and half-monster’ by foreigners who end up shipwrecked on Caliban’s island. Shariah’s costume was inspired by the way that Caliban was viewed by his colonizers. She decided to incorporate Maori cultural design into the costume to address the issues surrounding colonization and racism in our current times. Shariah was also able to use the design as part of one of her NCEA internal assessments.
The final costume involved a waistcoat, a waistband with Rangiora leaves, a piupiu (Maori flax skirt) and a ta moko design on the legs and arms called unaunahi, which represents fish scales.
The Sheilah Winn Shakespeare festival in Wellington involved a day of workshops, two days of performances by schools from all over the country and a prize-giving ceremony. The workshops ranged from stage combat fighting to costume design to workshops about Maori martial arts. Shariah attended workshops for costume design and set design. On the final day, Shariah received 3rd equal in the prize-giving ceremony, an amazing achievement.
At the moment, Shariah is hard at work making her dress for the Kaipara College ball. I am sure it will look stunning!

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