Monday, January 27, 2014
Costume Design: From Renderings to Reality
Costuming a production can be time-consuming and challenging, especially when factoring in the size of the cast and multiple costume changes. SCR’s production of The Light in the Piazza has more than 80 costumes for a cast of 13—all the work of one designer. It’s up to her to take the lead and create the aesthetic through costumes.
Leah Piehl, who designed costumes for last season’s hit The Motherf**ker with the Hat, returns to SCR for the Piazza challenge. She started her work early in the process by reading the play, meeting with the director and researching the play’s time period to find inspiration. Then she develops a design concept that works within the world of Piazza.
With her final designs completed five to four weeks before first rehearsal, the next step is to actualize them. Piehl, her assistant, three costume shop staff members at South Coast Repertory and a group of over hires are the team that makes it happen. Using Piehl’s costume renderings as a “road map,” the team works together to get the costumes as close to the renderings as possible. Sometimes building—making the costumes in house—is the key, and SCR has a strong costume shop that builds a majority of the costumes for each production.
Fittings, alterations and building all push the shop into an organized frenzy as the team assembles each costume. Once the production moves from the rehearsal room to the stage, certain looks may need adjustments as the production comes together. As the first previews approach, each design element of the production (costumes, scenery, sound, and lights) must work in harmony to create the world of The Light in the Piazza. The end product is another piece to the story unfolding on stage.
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