Blog Behind the Scenes: Distressing Wickhams Jacket
Nov 11, 2022

Behind the Scenes: Distressing Wickhams Jacket

A couple dashes of sawdust and a few splashes of ale and you’ve got one seriously out of sorts jacket. We asked Resident Costume Designer Kish Finnegan about her process distressing George Wickham’s military coat and here’s what she had to say.

“This was a fun one! In theatre we do a lot of ageing and sometimes distressing to support the story we are telling onstage. Our characters are often NOT in a place where brand new fresh clothing makes sense to their situation. Sometimes it is as simple as washing and washing new garments to make them look lived in, sometimes we need to do more! In Pemberley, George Wickham arrives drunk and bloodied from a bar brawl. We had to create two identical full military costumes for him, distressed AND pristine, since he leaves Pemberley in freshly washed and repaired garments. The designer and I, along with the actor, determined that what had happened to him involved, being punched in the face and stomach, falling on the dirty saw dust bar room floor, and finally stumbling to safety at Pemberley which probably involved a trip and fall into some mud on the way. Certainly, he had at least one full pitcher of Ale thrown on him in addition to what he dribbled all over himself!

Alas, here I am creating the results of that event upon his costume pieces… all in a manner that will be lasting and not wash or dry-clean out during our long run. I used acrylic paints and fabric paints to create mud, dust, sweat and a bit of blood on the white breeches, linen shirt and in the photos, his military coat. I mixed a batch of liquid Ritt fabric dye to match a good brown English Ale and well, threw it at him! Very satisfying! Haha.

As a craft artisan I totally enjoy this storytelling layer of costuming. I always take a pause to honor before I begin “destruction” of a piece, especially one like this military jacket which was the beautiful and time-consuming work of my fellow artisans who painstakingly tailored this lovely garment. Only once did I have a draper cry when I took to shredding and splattering a beautiful period dress she built (Dracula) and often I invite the artist who built it to “throw the first punch” which they seem to enjoy quite thoroughly!”

Make sure to come see George Wickham’s bloody, battered look and other amazing costume pieces in The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley now until December 2nd in Tucson and December 8 – 23 in Phoenix!