Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Clothing Makes the Character

Sydney Lester, Kelsey Kato and Allie Mgrublian show-off their collages.
SCR’s Teen Players, who present David Lindsay-Abaire’s Snow Angel this month, have proven their acting chops: they had to spend two years in SCR’s conservatory and go through an audition before being admitted in to this program. However, these talented teens learn a lot more than their lines in these productions. Working with costume and scenic designer Sara Ryung Clement, who has contributed to several TYA productions including Ben and the Magic Paintbrush and Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, the students created costume collages to help them bring their characters to life.

Nikki Daurio, Christopher Huntley and Nick Slimmer discuss their characters.
Clement’s prompts for the project included those that would elicit a visual response (What is your character’s favorite color?), but also those that made them think more deeply about their characters’ personalities and motives (What does your character fear? Are you precise or sloppy?). Clement then helped the teens distill their ideas into functional costumes.

Some costumes came to life almost exactly the way the students envisioned. For instance, girlie girl Tina-Louise (played by Sydney Lester) wears pink almost exclusively, right down to her floral-print sweater, just like Sydney envisioned. Benny, played by Kelsey Kato, wears a pair of shoes nearly identical to the pair Kelsey put on his collage.

On the other hand, sometimes the costumes varied greatly from their original concept, as was the case with Sophia Falmagne, who plays an awkward outsider named Helen. Sophia originally thought that her costume would be a no-frills affair with the occasional half-hearted attempt at fashion. “But the whole thing is an attempt at fashion that fails miserably,” she says of her orange tights-and-strapless sweater dress combo. “But it makes me feel awkward just wearing it, so it helps me feel more in character.”

IN COSTUME:  Left, Sophia Falmagne, Bahaar Tadjbakhsh and Jasmine O'Hea; right, Max Weinberg,
Clarke Schwartz and Kelsey Kato.
The students all agreed that putting on their costumes helped their characters come to life. Allison Baayoun and Allie Mgrublian, who play twins Betty and Fran, said that wearing matching outfits made it easier to coordinate their movements, while Kelsey Kato (Benny) said that dressing in the show’s winter layers helps him remember that the play is set in Vermont, and that all the students need to act as though they are cold. “It’s a constant reminder. It really helps anchor me.”

IN COSTUME: Left, Christopher Huntley, Grace O'Brien and Shireen Kulkarni; middle, Allison Baayoun and
Allie Mgrublian; and left, Nikki Daurio, Sydney Lester and Nick Slimmer.
And it isn’t just clothing they had to think about. “I was worried about what to do with my hair,” says Jasmine O’Hea, who plays Eva, the play’s mysterious heroine. “I needed something that looked old-fashioned but that was easy to do myself!” In addition to doing their own hairstyles, the students are responsible for getting in and out of their costumes themselves.  “I don’t think I considered the quick changes enough!” says Christopher Huntley, who as nerdy kid Arlo has to get in and out of his cold-weather layers half a dozen times in the show.

Come see these budding talents on display in Snow Angel which closes Sunday, May 27.

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