A group of Isle of Man College first-year art and design students are creating some of the costumes for Island of Culture’s I Love Culture Show on September 20th at the Villa Marina, billed as a celebration of some of the finest Manx talent.
The final reveal will be on the night but expect tutus and organza, sparkles, dramatic masks à la Venice Carnivale, a new take on the sea-god Manannan, capes and corsets, and decorative flourishes in a riot of fairy-like flowers, every one fashioned by hand out of fabric in shades that reflect the colours of the Manx tartan.
The show has been devised, arranged and is being produced by Stage Door Entertainment, the three-strong team of experienced performers Lisa Kreisky, Kristene Sutcliffe and Alex Toohey.
‘We don’t want to give too much away in advance,’ said Alex, ‘but it’s going to be a spectacular celebration of the amazing wealth of talent there is in the Island, with a cast of around 200, including Young Actor, Singer and Musician of Mann finalists.
‘Young performers in the Isle of Man have tremendous opportunities to get a good grounding and develop their craft; the show is demanding and we’re asking a lot of all them but given their outstanding capability everyone’s risen to the challenge brilliantly.’
‘The show is a cultural fusion; a mix of traditional but re-imagined Manx themes, legends and myths, combined with all kinds of dance – street, tap, folk, funk and contemporary, funk – and of course, music – some of which has been specially commissioned.’ said Kristene. ‘The music, the dancing, the palette of colours chosen for the costumes, every element of the show reflects some aspect of Manx heritage.’
As student Millie Smallwood, responsible for creating a pair of glittery fairy wings, explained: ‘We were given free rein to interpret the design brief from Stage Door Entertainment, but were keen to introduce a hint of Manx tartan as accent colours.’
Speaking while stitching a tutu student Ariane Monds said: ‘We were provided with the performers’ measurements and met the principal artist but were then left to our own devices. Designing and making the costumes for the show is one of a number of live projects that form part of our course and when the performers saw our ideas they were impressed and really liked them.
And ‘corset lady’ Emma Willmott said: ‘We’re a predominantly “girlie” contingent but there is one male, Peter Beaumont who, as well as being in charge of laser cutting for the flower shapes, is very skilled at sewing.’
Alex continued: ‘The show’s artistically and technically sophisticated and will be performed in the round. For some of the artists that’ll be a new experience. It’s quite different from being up on stage; in the round you’re far more exposed.
‘From day one there’s been a shared vision and a genuine will on the part of everyone, including the students at Isle of Man College and the Villa Marina team who couldn’t have been more co-operative, to create something very special.’
Kristene observed: ‘It’s been so encouraging that the artists have been so flexible and every one of them feels it’s a real privilege to be involved.’
‘Dealing with a client, interpreting the design brief and then working collaboratively was something new and very valuable for us,’ said Millie.
Reflecting on the project Ariane said: ‘Much of what we’ve had to do proved to be a lot more demanding than we ever imagined, but what’s come out of the project is that we’ve learned how to work as a team. It’s been a really valuable experience.
Expect a fairy ballet, a new and eerily dramatic take on Manannan, trumpets, strings, jazz and jigs, choirs, excerpts from Les Miserables with Manxman and West End lead Stephen Palfreman, some surprise messages of support, pyrotechnics and much more.
Alex said: ‘This is a show that’s not just music, not just dance and not just song…it’s a spectacular in every sense. And it’s our hope that when the show’s over people will leave feeling patriotic and proud to be part of the Isle of Man and be sharing in the Island of Culture celebrations.’
Details of tickets sales will be announced soon.