Creating costumes for Beau Dean Riley’s New Breed work


14 December 2023


Pedro Greig

We asked New Breed Costume Designer, Aleisa Jelbart, about the costume creation process for Beau Dean Riley Smith’s new work Gubba.

New Breed 2023 must close this Saturday 16 December! Final tickets available. Book Now.

Gubba is a powerful work that explores the foundation and establishment of Australia, depicting the frontier wars of that time through a narration of Jeff Wayne’s 1978 musical score of H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds.

What has it been like collaborating with Beau?

So rewarding! Beau and I spent a lot of time chatting through the concept, going on tangents and bouncing ideas off each other. The costumes for Gubba reflect a multitude of conversations, phone calls and stories. Beau is so collaborative and because of this, the process felt really satisfying and honest. I couldn’t be happier or prouder with the result.

Was it difficult to select the fabrics and create costumes for both functionality and aesthetics?

In Beau’s work, the costumes were an important storytelling device. We took inspiration from historical clothing and uniforms, modern-day military/adventure gear, dystopian fashion and of course War of the Worlds. They would help to communicate a class structure and hierarchy within the group. The costumes needed to be versatile enough to create various images, allowing for experimentation and discoveries during the rehearsal process. They also needed to be strong, comfortable and accessible for quick changes. We used fabrics like canvas, cotton drill and thick cotton webbing for durability, creating our version of military rucksacks and tactical vests.

Are there any interesting anecdotes or challenges you faced during the costume creation process that you can share?

An exciting element of Gubba is having the dancers covered in ochre. This means that as we move through the work the costumes get grubby! It feels great to let go of a design and see what happens to it during the show. Ochre and sweat give the costumes a grittiness that can only be achieved through performance. I love it!

New Breed is generously supported by The Balnaves Foundation.

Related Articles