Young costume designer in running for West End fame with charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The finished costume design by Matilda Wyatt. EMN-160713-181825001
The finished costume design by Matilda Wyatt. EMN-160713-181825001

A student from Heckington has been shortlisted for a competition to encourage budding theatre designers backed by award-winning West End show, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Kesteven and Sleaford High School pupils Matilda Wyatt, 16, is among 12 teenagers shortlisted in the 13 to 18 years category for costume design in The Imagination Awards.

The awards are a new competition launched by award-winning West End production of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to encourage creativity among inventive youngsters and budding theatre designers.

Young inventors aged 5-15 were asked to think up a solution to a problem in the world around them in Charlie’s Challenge, while there was a separate category for aspiring young theatre designers aged 13-21.

The Young Theatre Designers category (split into 13-18 and 19-21) received many fascinating, inspiring and creative entries including Matilda’s original costume design for a female Willy Wonka using recycled sweet wrappers, which impressed the judges so much that it is in the final cut.

Matilda explained her design was incorporated as part of her GCSE textiles course to design and make a garment.

She said: “As I love drama I wanted to do the costume design brief.”

This was to undertake a commission by a national theatre company to make a costume for a modern production in the West End. It had to be modern and not a copy of costumes in the past.

She said: “I chose to design a costume for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but with a modern twist, Willy Wonka being female.

“I had to use recycled parts in my garment and I needed to use inspiration from original costumes and from books, films, musicals and theatre productions to create an original costume of my own.”

She added: “Many costumes are only worn for the duration of the performance so the costume shouldn’t cost too much to make.

I experimented with a number of different materials and decided to use brightly coloured cottons to contrast with the recycled sweet papers I have used on the bodice of the waistcoat and as applique on the full circle skirt.”

She kept the jacket idea but made the skirt more feminine with lots of movement for the stage, while the metallic sweet papers were designed to catch the lights.

Matilda said: “I am really pleased with my finished costume, and it looks exactly how I imagined it would.

Her textiles teacher, Bronwyn Fleming, commented that the make and finish are very good.

She said: “Matilda is passionate about the theatre and is considering it as a career as she loves all elements of working ‘back stage’.

Entries came from all across the UK in many different forms, including pictures, stories, and even short films.

Renowned educationalist Sir Ken Robinson is Patron of the awards with director Sam Mendes also on the judging panel. The youngsters could win a VIP visit and behind-the-scenes experience to the hit West End show.

The school that submits most entries will receive an Imagination Workshop at their school and a talk from one of the judges.

The Young Theatre Design Award looks for those who have already experimented with set and costume design, and also seeks out aspiring artists and those with relevant skills who have not yet considered a career in the theatre industry.

The winners will be announced on Friday (July 15).