Calgary playwright seeks used wedding dress donations for her new show

If you have a wedding dress in the back of a closet or a box in the attic, a Calgary playwright and performer is offering an opportunity to give it a second life — as art.

Louise Casemore is the creator of a new show at Alberta Theatre Projects called Undressed, and she is asking for donations of used wedding dresses.

The one-woman cabaret, Casemore says, is also a real-time auction that explores weddings, the wedding industry and a simple question: what do you do with a used wedding dress? 

“We’re going to be using donated gowns to actually create the set for the show, as well as feature in some of the other areas,” Casemore told The Homestretch on Wednesday.

“So, since sustainability and zero waste is a big priority for us, we are asking the community if they would be willing to repurpose their gowns for the sake of some theatre magic.”

Set pieces, design elements

The production is looking for gently-used wedding gowns of any size, and ideally in a colour scheme of white, off-white and blush.

And so that there are no misunderstandings, former brides should know ahead of time that it would be a full donation.

“The dresses will be used in a variety of different ways,” she said.

“Some of them will stay intact. Some of them will turn into set pieces and design elements, and some of them will be used in more exciting and mysterious ways throughout the show.”

The show looks at different gowns, and the stories behind them and the women who donated them, Casemore said.

“And using that to have a really fun sort of evening of theatre, looking at the wild sort of world of weddings, that I think everybody can sort of get on board with,” she said.

An emotional thing

As for how people are reacting to parting with their wedding dresses, Casemore said she has been struck by how varied it is.

“We have people that are happy to sort of shove it in our doorsteps and say, ‘You know, do whatever you want with it. Run it over with a car,'” Casemore said.

“And then other people, you know, are having a really beautiful, emotional reaction.”

So far, the wedding dress donations include her own.

For her, the experience of donating it was exciting but emotional, Casemore said. Parting with it is not nothing.

“I really do believe in what it is to find a purpose, and give some meaningful homes to these gowns,” she said.

“You know, it’s been sitting in a box for over 10 years and it’s quite an emotional thing to sort of haul the old girl out and see how she’s holding up.”

To arrange a wedding dress donation, or for more information, contact Alberta Theatre Projects at 403-294-7475, ext. 1098.

Undressed will run from Jan. 26 until Feb. 13 at the Martha Cohen Theatre.