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Tim Chappel brings 'Priscilla' magic to NIDA design students

Oscar Award-winning costume designer Tim Chappel was welcomed to NIDA  as he brought his extensive experience and inspiration to Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) students.

Tim Chappel at NIDA

Photo: Tim Chappel in the studio with Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) students.

Oscar Award-winning costume designer Tim Chappel was welcomed to NIDA  as he brought his extensive experience and inspiration to design students. The designer of Priscilla Queen of the Desert worked with second year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) students on Cabaret design, from the 1966 musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff.

‘It’s a real privilege to be teaching here,’ Chappel said. ‘I wanted to see how the school operates. I know a lot of alumni, and have a connection with them.’

Chappel’s extensive industry experience was invaluable to the students. ‘The market is so small in Australia and there are so many talented people out there. To make a living from your craft you need to be also good at marketing and communication and branding yourself.

‘A large percentage of the staff I hire are NIDA graduates,’ said Tim. ‘I often put them in assistant designer positions where they will design minor characters or a group scene with ensemble members or sometimes the shoes for dancers.’

The students presented their Cabaret costume design drawings to staff and Tim for feedback at the end of the project. ‘You can get by as a costume designer without being able to draw, but you need to communicate your ideas’ said Chappel. ‘If you want to be competitive in the market as a designer drawing will take you so much further. It’s a skill that employers really like. It also makes a very good calling card at the end of the show that you can give to producers and directors.’

Photo: Tim Chappel at the drawing presentation of Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) students.

While in Australia, Tim is working on Boy from Oz in Melbourne, Aspects of Love at the Hayes in Sydney and Barnum. He’s also just finished the massive TV show from Channel 7 called Dance Box. ‘I like working on both TV and musical theatre,’ said Chappel. ‘They all require different approaches to design. I like honing my skills.’

Reflecting on the outstanding success of Priscilla, Chappel said: ‘It’s funny having created something like Priscilla. People often tell me that the film or the musical changed their life. As designers we are part of the makers of culture. And when you think about it, civilisations come and go but the thing that lasts is the culture – the stories and the plays are the heart of society.’

About Tim Chappel

Tim Chappel is one of the Australia’s leading costume designers and has designed for feature films, TV series, theatre, musicals and music video clips in the USA and Australia. He won an Academy Award, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and Australian Film Institute (AFI) award for his costume design of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, for both the film and the musical. He designed feature films Today You Die, Lovewrecked, Miss Congeniality, Into the Sun, Red Riding Hood and others. TV credits include High Society, I Will Survive, Australia’s Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars as well as a number of music video clips for popular artists such as Missy Elliot, Cher and Matchbox 20. Tim designed for the encore presentation of The Sapphires, designed costumes for PJ Hogan’s latest film Mental and for the theatre, Gypsy, The Pirates of Penzance, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story and Funny Girl among others.

Applications are now open for all NIDA courses including Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) and Master of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) for 2019. Details and information on how to apply here.

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