Again, I am working on this new website. But here are a few things I am doing and have done. I hope to see you back again soon.
ZOYKA’S APARTMENT Set and Costume Design
I am currently working on the set and costume designs for Zoyka’s Apartment by Mikhail Bulgakov for Bluebird Arts in Chicago. Directed by Luda Lopatina Solomon, the production will run from February 26 – April 2, 2016 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N Southport Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657
The set is designed to travel and will be self contained to be adaptable for a variety of stages. This will be the third time designing this constructivist inspired production for Luda. The first was some 16 years ago with the European Repertory Company in Chicago at the American Blues Theatre. That space was sprawling with plenty of space in the 3/4 round for colliding platforms and flying dress forms. I was surprised and delighted for the invitation to design the production again in 2011, this time for the Volhonka Theatre in Yekaterinburg, Russia. This beautiful repertory company runs a program of 10-12 plays in rep for a 42 seat theatre with a small café. Our production of Zoyka is still running and is one of the only shows being presented twice a month.
I am excited to add costume design to the coming production. I welcome the opportunity to play with the balance of color and textures in this simple setting and tell a more complete tale of the struggles and triumphs of this 1920’s tragic farce. After working together two other times, Luda and I have found ourselves on the same page for the vision of the costumes. We are intently focused on the authenticity of the period and especially concerned with the weight and quality of the materials. This presents a familiar problem faced by most new theatre companies and limited budgets. The fabrics we desire are simply out of our range! However, sourcing vintage garments to repurpose has proven fruitful in the second hand shops of San Antonio. And we are gathering a good stock of fabulous textiles to build our design for 18 characters wearing up to 40 costumes.
To facilitate discussions with the director, I am sketching ideas in Photoshop using vintage figures, cast headshots and photos of sourced garments layered on top of set renderings from SketchUp. I can then cut and paste alterations to discuss silhouette options as well as set color and texture themes directly on the set. So far, so good. Once we have a strong direction, designs will be finalized and construction will begin.
The best part of this project is the lead time. Discussions for the designs started in June 2015 for a production in February 2016. I have had the luxury of traveling to Chicago for the initial design meetings and to look at the space at the Athenaeum with the technical director. I returned in October to begin construction of the set and to work out the details. The set will be built and painted long before load in. Spending time with the director discussing the show; shopping for props and fabric; has been invaluable in getting a clear picture in time to enjoy the process and optimize creativity for all of us involved.
SPECIAL PROJECT FOR A CHRISTMAS CAROL at The Playhouse
I am currently in rehearsals for A Christmas Carol and have been asked by the directors to work with the Set and Costume designers to create a makeup design for my character, Jacob Marley. This new adaptation, based on the original novel, is attempting to reflect an authentic presentation of the ghost story in a simple way. The cast will provide the music and sound effects as well as moving of the set. Where possible, any affects needed should be accurate to the time period.
I am working on an idea I have wanted to play with for some time. If it works, I would match the design for the door knocker and allow for my jaw to drop effectively.
I am proposing a “soft sculpture” head mask that will include the wig and a weighted jaw that will drop when the chin scarf is untied, but will retract so as to not restrict speech or the conveyance of emotion. I am starting with nude lycra that will be painted. The set designers have offered their pallet of black light reactive pigments that will offer a glow.
My fingers are still crossed. It will be great if it works, but if it doesn’t, I will be that much closer to perfecting the method for another project down the road. And I will resort to the old stand by of grease paint. I will post my progress here.
IRISH CURSE by Martin Cassella
AtticRep, Resident Theatre at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
I had a great time doing the set design for Irish Curse with AtticRep, the resident theatre at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. It was fun to revisit the production and adapting it from Trinity Universities black box to the new Carlos Alvarez Studio Theatre was a treat.
WHITE a collaboration with AtticRep and the Aesthetic of Waste
I had the opportunity to direct the devised piece WHITE: a play for the new world order at AtticRep while in residence at Trinity University. It was collaboration with the good folks at the Aesthetic of Waste, Seth Larson, artistic director. We based the piece on two texts; Camus’ The Stranger and Voltaire’s Candide. Over the coarse of several months the ensemble worked to fuse the texts with contemporary life of twenty somethings/millennials. I developed a white box setting that could accept projections by artist Guy Hundere and manage copious amounts of blood. We combined puppetry, mask work, overhead projectors with the incredible original music of artist and singer song writer, Rachel Ziegler.
Smudge with AtticRep at Trinity University presented a great opportunity to coordinate costumes and co-design the set with artist Jade Townsend. We utilized his installation from the McNay Art Museum: New Image Sculpture exhibition as a starting point for this surreal play. Working via Skype from Brooklyn, Jade collaborated with myself and director, Roberto Prestigiacomo to transform a museum piece for the stage.
One of my last design projects with the European Repertory Company in Chicago was the hair and makeup for Madame DeSade