Inside Peak of Voice of Tolerance

JKFH design and construction of Costumes for Dragone’s voice of tolerance show

JKFH is proud to announce our participation in designing, creating and managing costumes on backstage for a fantastically executed bright musical at La Perle theatre in Al Habtoor City, Dubai. The musical was aptly named ‘Voice of Tolerance’. It was performed under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai. It was organized by the Ministry Of Education and Dragone who put together a large crowd of participating schools and willing students. The feat of organizing such an impressive event was extraordinary as schools came from all over UAE, and did not come to disappoint.

The Plot

In a world where tolerance is lost and isolated cultures are shut off to one another, a young girl with special powers journeys through problematic situations. Each situation illustrate problems in our current society and the protagonist sets out to fix them. Many situations are shown in a school environment where multiple cultures, bad habits and lack of respect meet. The girl showcases acceptance and solutions in each case to illustrate the values of UAE. The protagonist journeys through these situations in songs and choirs with an incredible stage setup of lighting, colorful costumes and a playfulness that only a kid can have.

Watch The Show

Participation Statistics

Just to get an idea of just how big this show was, we have laid out some of the statistics.

Participating Schools

YAS
Al Sabahiya

Gems DAA
French School

Wellington
Nas Dubai

Gems Modern Academy
UIPS Filipino

Khatt
Al Mataf

Nationalities

  • Others
  • UAE
  • India
  • America
  • Philipines
  • Arabic

School Types

Public Schools 51%
Private Schools 49%

Genders

Girls 76%
Boys 24%

What Role Did JKFH Play?

JKFH designed, produced and managed backstage costume changes during the show.

Design

JKFH Team

JKFH Team

Together with designer Wendy Benitz and the creative Dragone team we designed and created bespoke costumes for 300 students. We worked closely with Dragone and the ministry of education to ensure all costumes represent the creative and are also in line with the cultural aspect

we worked with the full 402 kids giving full support in costume and back stage organization all students from different backgrounds and nationalities.

Design Sketching

The design sketches we made were made to give a childish and playful look and feel that also aligned with the whole school concept of the play. The design print patterns were made to look like oversized bright crayon lines and randomized scribbles.

Custom scribble patterns were designed and digitally repeated to create the main look of the base costume and a complimenting scribble for the girls Sheila used throughout the oversized scuba costumes

What seems so simple is in reality quite challenging as the scuba was not just printed but the print and measurements of the student had to be properly calculated to achieve the avant- guard effect that the print would stop at one area between the chest and not just be printed all over for everyone the same way. This gave it the high end couture look.

Dragone Cooperation

The Dragone team has been an amazing team to work with and has helped in more ways than we can count. They have assisted in organizing 402 kids to come for measurements and trials. They have helped with numerous moving throughout the hotels and taken significant steps to welcome us as part of the team. It has been an amazingly friendly and busy journey. A big thanks goes out to Filippo Ferraresi (creative director) for making the bigger decisions when it counted. Lucy Hamlet the production manager also seemed to always be near when we needed assistance. We are to this day still in doubt whether the Dragone team ever sleeps as they are a force to be reckoned with.

Cultural, Choreography & Stage Considerations

La Perle Stage

La Perle Stage

From the initial sketch ideas to the final costumes many aspects had to be taken into consideration such as the cultural and also the practical aspect of how the students were moving on stage and how the light and props would have an impact on the overall look and feel to keep the creative touch and desired outcome.

For a specific scene the stage becomes filled with water. This is a special feature of the stage in La Perle. To take this into account meant we had to make costumes that would perform well in water. This meant after the water scene we had to insure all costumes were dried and ready for next show. 

Another aspect of the costume design was the choreography – the costumes had to work symbiotically with the choreography. The choreography was done by Liubov Zarembo. She was a huge help in assisting in highlighting the

Liubov Zarembo

Liubov Zarembo

movement needs of the different costumes.

All the costumes were designed in an oversized childish school look, this look was achieved by using scuba fabric. All costumes were created in the same look and feel however different from scene to scene achieving a harmonizing picture when all were standing together on stage.

Crazy little details were added for final touches such as a creative bow tie made of book pages for the teacher in the show. Other accessories included programmed LED googles. They were used in the show to illustrate mesmerized kids that are influenced by social media and technology.

Sourcing Fabrics & Production

The Sourcing Challenge

The Sourcing Challenge

The full construction of each costume was designed and made with a lot of thought behind it and produced the same way it would be to last a show that runs on regular basis. From all aspects the show was mastered to perfection from the shows story line, choreography, probs and costumes. 

Due to the short period of actual production time we had to source all fabrics locally from the UAE  buying up all stock on various locations on a certain type of scuba to assure consistency on how the fabric falls. The print production also had to be expedited as the process goes through several procedures that take its time, the planning of this was important in order to keep the set deadline. We planned enough time after delivery for on site fittings and alterations so that everything was set for the official dress rehearsal a week later and then minor tweaks for a day before the show.

From the over 20 different created custom looks we ensured to find the best suitable fabrics that were in the old school uniform tone colors and had oversized tweed design patterns. We worked almost throughout with different types of scuba and custom prints and Tull especially for the ballet dancers. For the traditional filipino costumes we opted for a nice polyester raw silk look that would give it a shine while on stage but also give the support needed for the traditional sleeves.

All kids were also given a canvas type shoes in various colors that we sourced all over Dubai to get the right sizing and style, also here we incorporated a buffer of alternative extra sizes for last minute size adjustments so we have them on site.

The project was not only challenging on timeline but also on the amount of customization. As it is well know in show business of last minute cast changes also in this case some performers were shifted around up to the last second and we had to adjust and keep up to pace accordingly. The organization of the full custom overview and allocation is just as important as the actual costume itself.

Gadgets, Specialty & Accessories

LED Glasses

LED Glasses

For the show we had to source LED Glasses for lighting purposes on the stage. This was a huge hit with the kids who all wanted to keep the costumes and gadgets.

LED gadgets are easy to source from China but with no time available our team had to source singular pairs from last stock items available until we had the quantity we required. Sourcing can be just as challenging as creating if you have limited resources available!

Specialty items like ballet and dance shoes were sourced from Meeting Dance & Leisure Wear.

Fitting & Alterations

All creations were bespoke made for every individual student and was fitted to perfection. This means that every kid was measured for multiple costumes and in rare cases where alterations were necessary we provided on-site tailors to get a perfect fit.

Challenge Of Managing 402 Kids

402 students had scene changes and therefore also costume changes. The average student changed their costume 2,5 times per show. This required high coordination and had to be managed in a smooth and fast manner. To successfully manage this feat we made individual stickers for each performer. The stickers came with the name and ID number for each performer. This number was introduced to the students as early as the measurement phase (several weeks prior to the show) where they we asked to remember their own number. These numbers were a critical part to our organization. The numbers reflected every aspect (shoes, costumes and accessories) of the final presentation and it assured everything was there he or she needed for their performance. This also made it much easier and faster to allocate and find all items in a super fast manner.

Organizing Costumes

Organizing Costumes

Organizing the different kids into changing rooms with their costume changes meant we did not have to hand out every costume at every change. It also acted to lessen strain of 402 students coming at the same time as they quickly found their changing room with their costume hanging ready for their change.

The final rehearsal was done a day before the show. We had to make sure that everything was organized in the backstage area.  Everything went smooth and all costumes were allocated in the correct changing rooms. We managed 5 dressing rooms around the backstage and 2 quick change areas for the very quick dress changes of the students / performers.

Now this sounds simple enough but have you seen 402 young adults of all ages from 6 – 17 years run around backstage almost at the same time? Now add the confusion of getting their first costume to change into? Also keeping in mind they all have personal belongings that also need to be stored safely. All of this coordination had to happen fluidly as the show day had 2 shows back to back and the entire backstage had to be properly reset in between.

That’s where you need a lot of patience, quick handling and always ready for out of the ordinary surprises.

The young performers then moved from room to room as there scenes unfolded and all costumes needed to be re-set at the end of the run though and hang properly back into place.

From last minute costume check if all sits proper, to checking LED Glasses are charged, helping the young performers change into and out of their costumes. Every little detail was attended to.

Super fun and exciting project and for sure an honor to be part of this amazing one of a kind production by Dragone. The JKFH team enjoyed every stressful moment of it;)