Costume Designer

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Lofty Spectacle Fittings and Multitasking

Just because I’m moving on to the Wiz doesn’t mean I’ve put Lofty to bed yet. Far from it–I’m in the multitasking phase of my job. I’m in the thick of Lofty costume fittings, have preliminary Wiz sketches due on Tuesday, and tomorrow morning I meet with David to start talking about the next APTP show. As long as I stay organized and maintain a to do list I can switch between many shows in a day. I’d even say I enjoy it, I like feeling the burn of a creative work out.

One of the things that keeps me invigorated while working on many projects at once is all the talented and brilliant artists I get to collaborate with. I’ve got a roster of All-Stars on Team Lofty, some new faces and some repeat favorites. Mel Bochat, head of costume crafts at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, is once again building me crazy magic crafts. I think she likes the challenge of building outrageous pieces for House shows, because this is the third time she’s signed on to work with us. For Lofty, she’s making the latex appliances that will turn Nathan into a skeleton. I spent the morning rounding up (fake) bones for her to use for the molds.  You can’t say that everyday.

One of the new All-Stars is my brilliant and wonderfully collaborative puppet builder, Bill Dee. She’s been helping me with the puppets and costume spectacle parts of Lofty. One of things I appreciate about her approach to building puppets is that she understands there’s story-telling even in construction details. She supports my design decisions with materials and construction ideas that support the character ideas I’m communicating through my designs. More than once I’ve tweaked the designs based on construction methods she’s explained to me. Here are some photos from a fitting we had a few nights ago. First, the Jeffs.


This is the mock up of the costume. Ultimately the jacket will be seamless, and the shoulders will lie straight across; in other words, our shorter Jeffs will sink into the neck opening more than the taller ones, because that’s funny.

And here are the mock ups for the Portraiture of the Highly Absolved:


One of the challenges of designing for new works is that a lot of discovery happens during rehearsal, after I’ve already designed looks and my team has already started working on them. It’s an exercise in being nimble and open to change, which almost always happens for the better anyway. This fitting was on Tuesday, and on Saturday Tommy, Lee, and I met to talk about the Portraiture some more because its purpose in the play was still being refined. Based on our discussion at the meeting, we decided to modify the Portraits’ design to better connect them to another group of characters in the story. I gave Bill the heads up on Sunday, and tonight we’re having a phone meeting to discuss the changes. Bill has some thoughts on how different building techniques will read, and based on our conversation I’ll make some new sketches tomorrow–after my morning meeting with David and before I work on more Wiz sketches.

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