Costume as Medium for Cultural Expression in Stage Performance

Regina Kwakye-Opong, Grace Uche Adinku


Costume is not just about clothing the performer; it is the process of studying who and what the character in the scripts is. In character description costume plays an important role because, what the audience sees gives a more immediate impression of who the character is, than what he or she says; that is what they (the audience) hear from the characters speech. Consequently costume naturally gives a form of expression about an individual either of his or her social status, culture, religion, profession, sex, age and so on. It reflects in the daily life of the people because it is closely related with festivities, culture, pleasure, fashion and basic religious practices in Africa and the world over.

This ability of dressing to make an impression about the wearer on an onlooker is even more profound in the theatre because once a character appears on stage the audience instantly begins to interpret that character by what they see on him. In this respect, costume performs a primary role in helping the audience understand the character as well as his cultural background. This study is centred on the African culture as reflected in some theatrical performances in Ghana and Nigeria; with focus on how costume help to express the culture and identity of the community and persons in these stage performances.

Keywords: Costume, Culture, Stage Performance, Expression

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