Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Douglas Paterson


Clothing communities. Even our shoes are continually sending messages. Ruby red slippers conjure visions of Emerald City, Munchkins, and flying monkeys. Blue suede shoes bring to mind Elvis’s rebellious rock and roll, and Cinderella’s glass slipper is instantly equated with classic, fairy tale romance. Countless studies demonstrate that our clothing sends messages to those around us. As we look throughout history of the last 2500 years, we find that theatre is invariably used for the same purpose: to communicate with or send a message to an audience. It comes as no surprise that theatre has employed costume as a medium though which to achieve this objective. Costumes have coexisted with theatre from its very beginnings. My interest lay in the costume of children’s theatre in the United States and Canada. By examining the role of children’s theatre has historically fulfilled within the society of the United States and Canada and thus its goals today, as well as the role of experience in perception, and the basic aesthetic elements of design, I hope to establish an overview of costume design considerations in the children’s theatre. With the belief that costume is a form of visual communication, this paper’s main objective will be a discussion of effective visual communication through costume design for children between the ages of 4 and 11. In order to best create the framework from which to examine this topic, the following introductory overview will discuss the basic role of costume in theatrical production so as to conclude with statements concerning the relevancy of costume in children’s theatre.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Theatre and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2007 Bethany Chloe Elliott Merkling.

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