Tech-Time Thursday: Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Set and Costume Design

Madeline Nibali is the set and costume designer for Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts.

Having never received her Hogwarts owl, Madeline decided to make magic her own way. From wardrobe to stage, Madeline has always sewn… and knitted, crocheted, papier mâchèd, beaded, painted, built, or learnt whatever other skills were required to realise her visions. Throughout her studies in Fine Arts at VCA, she became increasingly engaged with the practice of creating worlds, characters, scenarios, and other elements of visual storytelling. She creates coherent visual evidence within a theatrical context for the audience to uncover.

Sure that her calling was to design and create set and costume, Madeline is currently completing her Master’s in Design for Live Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts so she can truly become a Master of Disguise! Past credits include: costume design assistant Mad Forest (VCA 2019), Prague Quadrennial (2019), Hotel Bonegilla (La Mama 2018), Lear (Melbourne University Shakespeare Company 2017) and much much more!

MN: From my first talks with Salty Theatre it was clear that this was to be something special and unique. We all wanted something different from the typical school uniforms of the Hogwarts world most people know. It was my privilege and challenge to cook up a cauldron using an ingredients list of whimsical notions provided to me and boil it down to a coherent concoction of creativity and comedy.

I was to create a world that is steampunk, 1940s English College… but a bit sexy and (of course) magical. No biggie. Normally a director would ask for one or two of these themes, but with such a fantabulous musical and visionary Sarahlouise Younger in charge, it required something bigger and better that exceeded the ordinary!


MN: I avoided deriving too much inspiration from the Harry Potter franchise and focussed on how teenagers rebel against societal norms. I researched muggle styles from the 1940s that would be recognised loosely as uniforms (military motorcycle drivers, nurses, librarians, press agents, and sailors) and then hit them with all the style and flare of a teenager bursting to show off their emerging personalities. I question anyone who claims to have never committed a uniform infringement in their school days.

Like teenagers seeking guidance and a place to belong, many of the characters in Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody absorb the characteristics of their chosen house, and so I reflected this through costuming: Myrtle is a Ravenclaw and therefore is always investigating and experimenting (in more ways than one), so she has glasses, goggles, magnifying glasses…whatever will help her discover, observe and eventually understand those around her! The house values were a major source of inspiration- it is an aspect consistently respected across books, films, parodies and plays alike.

The mascot of the badger is surrounded with baked goods as is their preoccupation in this interpretation of the House. Kind, fluffy, and sweet, the honey badger is the perfect patronus for our Hufflepuff characters…and its sneakiness comes into play too… “Hufflepuffs value kindness”… “also we value snacks.


Set Design

The set had logistical restrictions: it had to be stored and packed away quickly, therefore had to be minimal, and without a workshop it had to be constructed by me in my backyard (and fit in my little car)! I called on my experience in painting to make the banners, my furniture restoration tools to adapt a desk and chairs for Dumbledore, and rather eclectic personal collections to be adapted into various props.

MN: But there had to be some spark to evoke a magical state of mind. That’s where the sky came in: it will be a beautiful draping of felt with fairy lights, glitter and splashes of colour to form galaxies. This is something that has to be seen and installed in the space so the only way to see it is to come see the show!

Seriously… I have two kilos of glitter I intend to use on that sky.


Read more about Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody here.

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