Behind The Scenes at Derby Theatre: with Costume Designer, Tim Heywood

I’m so thrilled to dedicate this blog post to one of my personal favourite processes of Derby Theatre productions. Pretty much the element that can always pull a show together, that breathes life into characters’ looks; Costume. Here at Derby Theatre, we’ve had the chance to catch a glimpse of Derby Theatre’s Head of Wardrobe, Tim Heywood’s mind palace when it comes to working on the theatre’s most festive shows during the winter season.Costume Designer, Tim Heywood is responsible for the actors’ fitting yet striking ensembles you’ve seen in Derby Theatre’s Charlotte’s Web, Alice in Wonderland, Great Expectations, Gingerbread Man and many many more.With that automatically comes a process, a basic ritual that always starts with the script he’s working with. One of his favourite ways to help develop a clear idea of what he’ll be working on are patterns.

Tim’s costume work consists of designing, buying, or borrowing certain garments. However, mostly for reference, Tim likes to collect vintage patterns and compare them to today’s Victorian-style patterns as guidelines to create for his actors. Compared to today’s style of creating garments, one of the most significant differences are the seams. The seams done in the 1800s were sewn down the back for the appearance and improvement of posture. Those same seams worn today would make the actors feel uncomfortable, so Tim will then come up with alternatives.

When working on Period Shows like Great Expectations, Alice In Wonderland, Cinderella and so forth – there must be some sort of common ground between the 1800s style corset/dress and the comfort of the actors working in their costume. That’s where Tim’s innovation and technique comes in and works with what he refers to as the clues in his costumes. Besides the fact that it is a costume, he thinks about the characters themselves, from within, about their lifestyle, how they like to see things, how they like to dress, and what their look says about them from the audience’s point of view. It all comes into play and this season he’s working on the upcoming production, Peter Pan!


Here’s a behind the scenes scoop on Mr Heywood’s process towards preparing for the well-known classic!1. The File.This is perhaps the ideal bulk of the entire show, all put together into one file of which he likes to call his bible.This Peter Pan Edit contains:

  • Ideas that come to mind from director, Sarah Brigham or set designer, Neil Irish – more of a collaborative task
  • Mini Profiles of the cast members for their costumes, for reference and what could work for each of them
  • Contact details to call for measurements and alterations
  • Photocopied images for inspiration
  • The mood this production is going for; punk, theatrical vibes, the music, art form etc.
  • The characters themselves in the story and their atmosphere as well as their personal style

2. Meetings

  • Next, Tim will run through his file and lay out all the visuals of what the characters costumes could revolve around with the director until they end up with one main photograph for each character
  • He’ll then ask the director for a list of what instrument each actor plays or at least any hobbies they have, just to use as reference for the characters they’re playing – to give a more practical feel here and there

3. The Mindset

  • In this case, Peter’s story is not only being told but it’s also shown through what he’s wearing. To grab a sense of what he’s feeling and his mindset on things.
  • Once the main ideas are finalised, Tim finds his connection to the play through putting all the minor details and clues into a final design of his depiction of the costumes – kept in his portfolio/archive and works from there.

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To create anything from something you’ve interpreted from the mind is amazing, and to do that with a costume in my eyes would require a lot of patience and ease when focused. Tim Heywood takes pride in paying attention to detail in his work, very thorough. He designs these artistically exquisite illustrations and brings them yet again to life through materials that relate to his characters one way or another.Thanks to the rest of the DT Ambassador team for organising this behind the scenes walkthrough!And a very special thank you to Costume Designer, Tim Heywood for meeting with us and kindly sharing and allowing us to see, learn and document his incredible work!If you would like to book your tickets to see PETER PAN at Derby Theatre this winter, please click the link here

Once again thank you so much for stopping by The Belper :)Lots of love,e0e90955-52de-40d7-8bba-8131241c9610-1

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