Sifting through the nerdy side of my personality, checking out details of this week’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in Los Angeles, I came across a term I never knew existed in “cosplay”.

As you may have guessed or known already, “cosplay” is derived from the words “costume” and “play”. While popular in many Asian countries for decades now, cosplay has been gaining ground in Western societies, too.

When cosplaying (verb?), everyday people typically dress up in home made costumes (many elaborately detailed, others provocative, some quite unattractive!) of characters in works of fiction. I stumbled across the term today watching a scantly clad woman being interviewed at E3 who was apparently dressed up as a character from an upcoming PlayStation game. People cosplay characters from anime, manga, films and comic books, not just video games.

But why post about cosplay on The Drama Teacher? Because it’s all about costumes, role-playing and performance art. The costume relevance is obvious. Some of the attention to detail cosplayers (noun?) put into constructing the costumes would theatrically make this naturalistic. However the types of costumes made for the many unusual characters are so “other-worldly”, they are more like fantasy.

Serious cosplayers don’t just don the costume, they play the character as well, so role-playing becomes an integral part of the activity. Because cosplaying often occurs before thousands of people in the hallways of fan conventions and the like, it is also akin to performance art. You wouldn’t make such an elaborate costume of a fictional character just to walk around the house, would you? (I’m steering well clear, as this blog is G-rated!).

We’ve all seen these guys and girls walking around in their fantastic costumes, but did you know what they are doing has a name?

2 Responses

  1. Rzp says:

    I’ve had a number of students in the last few years that way into cosplay. They were obviously really suited to the costume stagecraft role in my Theatre Studies classes. Some have even been able to create helmets from yoga mats!

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