Guest Blog: Bloomsday Survival Kit

Each month a member of the crew behind the Bloomsday Survival Kit will provide an insight into the motivation and method behind their work. Our third blog is by survival kitter Maite López.

How to Create a Character for Bloomsday

I come from a region in Germany where millions of people dress up every year and celebrate carnival, the so called “5th season” with parties, parades, and many other traditions. So, it is not surprising that I represent the carnival element of the Bloomsday Survival Kit team. Starting at a young age as squaw, princess, Spanish dancer etc., has provided me with plenty experience in dressing up and creating a variety of costumes.

Having lived in Dublin for nearly 5 years, I find it strange that Bloomsday isn’t celebrated across the city. I would love to see the whole city taking part, dressing up in their version of Edwardian fashion or at least sporting a typical hat. We dress up for St. Patrick’s Day, why not for Bloomsday? Wouldn’t it be great to go out on that day and feel like you have stepped back in time? So, to get more people involved in dressing up, I want to share with you how I created my character for our Bloomsday Survival venture.

My Ulyssean Alter Ego Mary Driscoll came to me through a combination of reading the book, watching the film “Bloom” (2003) and having a friend, Les Frou-Frous, whose hobby it is to create turn-of-the century clothes. Mary Driscoll is ex-scullery maid to the Blooms, having been dismissed because Leopold couldn’t keep his hands to himself as we discover in the “Circe” episode. She claims that her clothing was interfered with twice and that she suffered several discolourations – you can see how this naughty side character provides me with endless opportunities for theatricals.

Now we have to dress the character! The mission of The Bloomsday Survival Kit is to make Ulysses fun, interactive and accessible. Bearing that in mind I also wanted to encorporate the carnival element. You don’t have to be authentic Edwardian, but can give it your own take depending on what you have at home. After all, we want to get as many people as possible involved to lend the city some colour!

My vintage tailor friend provided me with an apron made after a cut from 1905 and a 1940s canteen cap – Mary Driscoll was taking shape. As I am a make-up artist, I went for orange/purple eyebrows, blue freckles and pink rosebud lips to bring a bit more fun into my character. The finishing touch was a kind of 1940s Poodle hairdo (a bunch of curls gathered over your forehead) peeping from under my cap. And voilà – Mary Driscoll was born!

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Now to you! Celebrating carnival, I hardly ever spend money on costumes. I make them up with what I have at home. You can do the same for Bloomsday!

For the ladies, all you need is a long skirt in a dark colour (brown, green, etc.), a white blouse (with ruffles at collar and wrists if you have) and a shawl that you can drape over your shoulders. Or dig out your old Debs dress and vamp it up.

Men can wear a black suit (as Leopold Bloom is going to a funeral) or trousers in browns or greys (wool or flannel if you have), a white or cream shirt and a waistcoat or braces.

What I would suggest is to invest in a hat – the most iconic hats from Ulysses being a bowler or a strawboater.

For the more adventurous, men could sport a dressing gown representing Buck Mulligan who takes a dip in the scrotumtightening sea in the very first chapter. For women, a long nightgown and long flowing locks are all you need to create Molly Bloom lounging in bed. Or check out the episode in the Brothel, Circe, as there’s loads of mad costume changes in it.

For more ideas visit Bloomsday Survival Kit on Facebook and flick through our pictures! The big book is full of weird and wonderful characters, ghosts, one-eyed giants, sailors and prostitutes among them. I hope I have inspired some of you to dress up for Bloomsday. Let’s turn it into a big Carnival!

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