Thursday, January 17, 2013

Double Heart: Costume Fitting

Pene: hideous dogsbody

Costumes for Double Heart are designed by Great Lakes Theater costume shop manager Esther Haberlen, who is all kinds of totally damnright awesome. Let me tell the story again, for those not paying attention ...

We first collaborated for the tour of On the Dark Side of Twilight, which had a cast of three actors who, over the course of one hour, play twelve characters. The story spans 200 years, and so the challenge was to create a wide variety of historical looks, that in many cases looked expensive and chic, and could be thrown on and off in a manner of seconds, with or without assistance.

From "On the Dark Side of Twilight"
The Count, upstaged by a dress.

I'm not even going to mention how incredible the wigs are. Esther has designed every tour since, including last year's Mysterious Affair at Styles, though I did grow and maintain my own mustache.

For Double Heart, our two protagonists, Beatrice and Benedick, wear (mostly) the same thing throughout. However, I have the dubious honor of playing four characters, and in some cases I must walk off as one and right back on as another. My pain is Esther's pain.

Who wrote this thing?

Don Pedro: upstanding officer

Did I mention the hats? The hats are just outstanding. I get to wear that hat!

Just a little background ... Double Heart, as written, takes place in the mid-16th century, some fifteen years or so before the events of Much Ado About Nothing. At that time, Italy was still largely a number of city-states, and had recently gone from French "protectorate" to that of Spain. Part of the story involves a large and successful sea battle against the Ottoman empire, part of  series of military events which lead, eventually, to the idea of Italy as a single nation.

However, as Esther informed me, the dress at that time was a great deal less colorful, and for the purposes of our production she moved her design two hundred years later. Part of that inspiration came from Kenneth Branagh's 1993 film version, which is also modeled on Italy of the 18th century.

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