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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Flores

Safety First

Kneepads. Part safety component, part costume piece.

Every Costume Designer will need to incorporate kneepads as part of their design in some way in their career.

The show I am currently working on has a set made with three ramps. The four actors in the show are having to climb up these ramps and slide down them a majority of the show.

With that fact, safety is crucial in this particular show. The actors will require kneepads for protection on their knees as they are sliding down the ramps. I've even had to purchase wrist sweatbands to help with the bumping of wrists for one actor. The verdict is still out if actors will want a little more protection padding for themselves. Not a problem.

In addition to the protective padding, I've had to adjust one of my designs, from a short sleeve shirt to a long sleeve shirt to help protect from scrapes, just in case. I also had to add leggings underneath the shorts. This is a time when a design gets changed due to safety reasons. For this, a designer must adjust and move forward.

So the sketch of the design you will see for the character of Tiny provided here down below will slightly change in real life when you see the production in person.

Sketch of Tiny for Kill Move Paradise.

I like to think I've mastered the art of finding the right knee pads for actors, though. The best kneepads I think are volleyball knee pads. They are made to give athletes protection when playing volleyball and hitting those hardwood floors, similar to actors kneeling on stage floors. They're soft and come in a variety of padding that works well under clothes or over clothes and from what I've heard from actors, they're comfortable. As comfortable a kneepad can be. They usually come in white and black colors. The white kneepads can easily be dyed another color to match costumes if worn outside of clothing.

They're also inexpensive and easy to find. You can purchase volleyball kneepads at any sporting goods store. I found mine at Big 5 Sporting Goods. They also sell them on Amazon, and they come in different sizes as well, according to how wide your leg is.

The ones I purchased are the McDavid kneepads, and they were about $10.99.

Not bad and doesn't break your budget. However, if you're working at a larger theater with a costume shop, every shop will have these in their stock.

Why kneepads, though? Actors use their body as their tool for work in becoming a character. An actor will and should look after their health and their body to make sure it's in shape and working well, and that includes knees. Wear and tear of years kneeling on hard stage floors can take a toll on the knees for an actor, just like a person who is installing those very same hard floors for the actors to perform on.

Remember to take care of those knees!

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