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“The opportunity to design a new Australian opera is a very rare one.”

Victoria LambSet Designer - Cloudstreet 2016

The characters exist in a stylised space, so it is the costumes which show the period and the passing of time. These are people who are living in desperate poverty. They are patched and mended and the opening scene by the river is when we see them at their most destitute. As they travel on the road to Cloudstreet they are a band of refugees and they resemble Limestone ghosts, literally coated in the chalky environment from which they come.

The costumes are very broken down and aged, often ill-fitting, with the look of the hand-me-downs and making do with whatever they have found. As the shop at Cloudstreet becomes more successful we see that they start to dress a little better. As this translates to rent money for the Pickles, we see in particular that Dolly has an expanding wardrobe.

We are using colour coding to clearly signify which family group the characters belong to. The Lambs are in shades of blue and the Pickles are in shades of red. This allows the audience to instantly recognise the many characters as they age over 20 years. The importance of family and the way it contributes to identity is a key theme and we are unashamedly presenting it with the colour coding. In the initial scenes, we are trying to enhance the childlike qualities of the younger family members.

The characters linked to the spirit world are clearly identifiable because they are wearing white. The three Spirit Girls are in Victorian skirts and blouses, which are heavily aged and decaying, with tattered lace and trailing hems.