Monday, August 11, 2014

Costume Design Presentation

Tonight is the designer presentations for the upcoming production of Jekyll and Hyde that we are doing this Fall.  The cast will be there to do a read through and then it's "go" time for me. The director, Nathan, and I have talked at length about the process and the stage business. Now it is time to implement all of those things into one cohesive design concept.

Sounds easy, right? It can be a challenge. Especially when you have two actors who rarely leave the stage and play at least three people. These same two actors also perform stage violence so the outfits have to be both convertible and comfortable.

I'd mentioned all of that before. The part for designers that becomes the challenge is "selling" our ideas about how we plan to do this within a set budget. While our budget is not "shoe string" - it is not at all the budget that the Steppenwolf, Lookingglass or Chicago Shakespeare Theatre would have to put on a Victorian production. So I have the opportunity to get really creative with my resources and my tools. And I do look at it as an opportunity. Problem solving is also part of design.

For example, these actors need a plethora of pockets. Where will they go? Can they be seen? Do they need hidden pockets to conceal things and what will they be concealing? Is there stage blood utilized? Yes. That means laundry. Can Victorian clothing be washed? Not really - but now it has to be.

While I'm not going to give away exactly how things will work (I do want to save something for the post show talk backs) I will tell you how many hours go in to planning this sort of thing.

From Draping to Patterning to Building to Embellishing - you will know the truth behind these costumes and why they need to be a certain way to tell this story the way we want.

Today we talk concept. I will repost pictures after the director has given his blessing.  :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Doctor Jekyll, I Costume ... er ... Presume

My theatrical production company, Idle Muse, is producing one of my favorite stories: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  We will be putting up the production this September. Whoa. Wait. Hold on. Stop. Halt. Stani. ArrĂȘte. Alto! Lest you start channeling "The Hoff" and dancing about proclaiming that “this is this moment”...please know that we are not, I repeat not, doing the musical Jekyll and Hyde

You will just have to get your Wildhorn and Cuden fix somewhere else.

This play, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, from the novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. We've only had two production meetings and even though it will have it's classic Late Victorian splendor, it already promises to be just as thrilling and gory as I remember the book being.

This provides me with, now, one of my greatest challenges as a costume designer. We want to portray the grit of the era while staying true to the text. There are six actors each with his or her own track (e.g. five of said actors will play a handful of characters while the actor playing Jekyll will remain only himself). 

Did I mention that this is Late Victorian? Yep. 1883. All of its upper crusty and West London with a side of Industrial Revolution.

Most of the actors have costume changes in 5 (yes, “five”) seconds or less. The impetus is to have it all be deftly wrapped in a blanket of seriousness and not have it become a giant ludicrous "camp fest."

There is a thin line between speed and humor and speed and efficiency of movement that makes the hair on every designer's neck stand up. We designers all want our serious work to be taken seriously. Camp quick changes are all well and good when doing a production of The Mystery of Irma Vepp.  

Camp is not our intention here, so, I must carefully examine each actor's stage business with the patience of a neurosurgeon before I proceed.

The principles of the show will be guided by the director, Ensemble Member, Nathan Pease. The Concepts of the show fit into our mission statement as a company.

So too must the costumes of this show conform to that Late Victorian setting.

I love a challenge.

"This is what I know..."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I've had two really great successful photo session with Greg Inda of Greg Inda Photography.

And now to post into oblivion.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Everything "YES"...and Now I Want Ethiopian Food.

This year, I gave myself the challenge of “everything ‘yes’”. If I saw it in the thrift shop or mending bin…the answer was: “yes. I will make something out of it”
I try to never limit myself...but I do always throw myself a designer challenge to keep my life interesting.
My sister gave me vintage clothing from the 1980s. Yes.
I found a plethora of vintage things that were pastel. Pastel??  But I'm afraid of pastel. No matter....  "YES".
My neighborhood is Pakistani, Indian, Afghani, Israeli, Croatian, Russian and Ethiopian. Saris. Yes. Habesha Tibeb. Yes. Yes.
Result is a super collection of delicious cantaloupe, coconut, tamarind, lime, plantain, wheat, yam, clove, coffee, chai and curry. Sumptuous velvets, sassy plaids. 

All the spices and twice the sugar? Yes. 
All the warmth - twice the cool?  Yes. 
All the fashion and twice the practicality? YES.
Now serving up a plateful of Chicago summer.  Do not miss it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Are you kidding me right now?

So apparently - my life is an episode of "Hoarders".  Theatre Addition.  My shop has not been usable since I closed The Mystery of Irma Vepp.  In OCTOBER.

Yes. There is a toaster oven in there. I know, right. Ridiculous. (It bakes FIMO really well...obviously...not while it is in the middle of the floor.

So.  This is really embarrassing.  Problem is that I don't even remotely want to have anything to do with cleaning it. Drudgery.

I'll have to make a game out of it.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Let's do the time warp. Again?

Oh. heavens. So a year has passed. I'm a bad blogger.

So. Today is about getting back on the horse. Giddyap.  Photoshoots, posters, inventory, taxes and book work.  Oh my.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


I am getting married this year. So. Naturally. I've been geeking out on all things bling.