Friday, May 3, 2013

The Object of Art: Costume Design

One of my favorite parts of the pre-production process is receiving final renderings from the costume designer.  These final renderings are the fulfillment of months of discussion about show concept, fashion and aesthetic style, and specific character needs.  This year, Lindsay Pape, professional costumer and professor at Creighton University, returns to Nebraska Shakespeare to reprise her role as this season's costume designer.

For Nebraska Shakespeare's On the Green productions, the costume design is where we really define the concept and period in which we are working.  Whereas the set has to be open and flexible enough to accomplish both show's needs, the costumes are exclusive to each production and can help solidify for the audience the time and environment of the play's setting.
The challenge for Lindsay is to design two completely different shows at the same time, and as we turn to rehearsals, continue her process through the building and realizations of those designs.  In less than two weeks, she will have a full costume shop with upwards of 15 full-time employees cutting, draping, sewing, and creating the more than 60 costumes needed to produce this year's shows.

This year's Twelfth Night is conceptualized as a quasi-musical, a Seuss-Punk dance-party.  Director Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek and Lindsay have worked together to create a bright, vibrant palate that draws from contemporary pop-stars like Lady Gaga, Andre 3000, and Pink.  Feste, the play's fool/musician is thrust to the forefront of this production as the leader of a band, 'The What You Will's'  (as in Will I Am of the Black-Eyed Peas, and the other Will too, some guy named Shakes).  Also shown above are Curio, Duke Orsino's tomboy attendant, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a pursuant of Lady Olivia's affections.  Olivia, the Countess of Illyria and Sebastian are on the higher-end of the play's hierarchy and their costumes, while still maintaining pops of color and flash, reflect their status.

Titus Andronicus is this year's traditional offering, presented in a classical Roman period, 1st Century AD.  Titus Andronicus is a war-hero, a general returning home after a ten-year war with the enemy Goths in which he has lost 21 sons in battle.  With his costume, I wanted to show the iconic Roman centurion, but change the color of his family from the typical Roman red to a rich blue.  Throughout the play, he will lose pieces of his soldier-wear, literally and figuratively stripped of his dignity.  

His daughter Lavinia, starts the play in a white dress (with 'Andronici blue' accents), representing her innocence and purity before the coming atrocities.




Saturninus is a political entity, becoming the newly appointed Emperor of Rome very early in the play.  The rendering to the left shows him in a late costume, at the height of his decadence, reveling in the ornateness his position affords.  Lindsay and I wanted his character to appropriate the red of the traditional Roman army, and it was the contrast between that and the blue of the Andronici that helps delineate the two opposing families.  The Goths begin the play as captured prisoners of Titus.  These prisoners become allies of Saturninus, the new Emperor, and in turn architects of Titus' destruction.  We wanted to show a fierce warrior society, and drawing from both Northern European Visigoth tribes of the period and America's native tribes of our more recent history,  Lindsay created a design that incorporates face and body paint, animal parts, and the dark/earth colors of those cultures.

I am thrilled to have such creative designers like Lindsay and set designer, Robbie Jones as part of our creative team to help us realize such thrilling concepts for two very unique plays.  I can't wait to start rehearsals in two weeks.  Next week, I'll chat about the casting process and introduce a few of our actors.

Good Friday Gentles,
Vincent CB
Artistic Director














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