Ethan James Morgan completed his BA (Hons) in Costume Design and Construction in summer 2020 and is now pursuing his MA in Digital Campaigning and Content Creation (also at QMU).
During his undergraduate studies, Ethan was the recipient of the award of Best Character Headpiece from the Edinburgh Guild of Dyers and Bonnet Makers for his Ghost Rabbit headpiece for a QMU production of Tam O'Shanter. In 2021 he is producing costumes for the Livingston Panto alongside other QMU costume design students.
What attracted you to Costume Design at QMU?
Unlike other similar courses, QMU’s Costume Design & Construction course offered a lot of industry-based learning opportunities from the get-go – there’s no better way to learn in my opinion. Even when working on costumes for professional productions there would be room for me to experiment, make mistakes and learn from them. The course is also very flexible and you can adapt the various projects and assignments to fit your interests and goals. Not to mention, the lecturers are all super supportive, friendly, and super creative themselves!
Where do you start when you are looking to create a headpiece, can you describe your thought and planning process? Or what inspires your creations?
It usually all depends on the brief. What is the headpiece for? How big should it be? Will it be worn outside possibly in the rain? Does the person wearing it need to do cartwheels? Questions like this are necessary and they help me make choices along the way. Nearly all of the headpieces I’ve made have been for performers who do a lot of moving about. They required sturdy bases that could be secured to the performers’ head.
Designers like Julie Taymor (who directed and designed The Lion King Musical) have inspired me to be ambitious and flamboyant in my creations. I’d say it’s always my goal of mine to “wow” and amaze the audience.
Did you face any challenges when creating the Ghost Rabbit headpiece which won you an award?
This headpiece was part of a full costume and it was important that the finished costume looked cohesive. Usually a project like this is simple enough – I would work on the headpiece first and pass it on to the person making the costume so they could match it, or vice versa. In this instance, due to time constraints the costume and headpiece would need to be constructed at the same time. The solution was to make sure I worked closely with the person making the rest of the costume. We used the same fabrics and fabric manipulation techniques and in the end, the finished costume looked as though it was all made with the same pair of hands. They say teamwork makes the dream work, and in this case teamwork makes one cohesive spooky looking zombie rabbit costume.
Tell us more about the prize you won for your rabbit headpiece.
I was delighted to be awarded the Bonnet makers and Dyers of Edinburgh “Incorporation’s prize for realising the most outstanding theatrical character using headgear”. The Incorporation give students of Edinburgh lots of support and encouragement, and I’m grateful for their kind efforts to support this skilled trade.
What are you working on now for Panto? Is designing for Panto different to other theatre costume design?
I’m super excited about the current project I am working on. I am the costume designer for the Livingston Pantomime “Bairns in the Wood” produced by Martin & Martin Theatre Co. Ltd.. I wish I could tell you all about it, oh yes I do!… but you’ll have to wait to see the show. My favourite thing about designing for a pantomime is that anything goes. The bigger, the goofier, the crazier, the better. More is more and you are not limited to one specific time period. Sometimes the challenge is narrowing down the ideas, there are usually too many!
"Unlike other similar courses, QMU’s Costume Design & Construction course offered a lot of industry-based learning opportunities from the get-go – there’s no better way to learn in my opinion."