Our Interview With The Costume Designer of A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol
What was it like to do the Costume Design for A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol?
This production has been a lot of fun as a peek-behind-the-scenes play where the audience gets a story within a story. We get to experience a little of the 1940's world of radio where there's some sense of casualness for the players, but they're still being broadcast in front of a live studio audience, so there's still a fun element of presentation and showmanship. Layering in the familiar Dickens tale from 100 years earlier also gives us room for great holiday accessories and character costume pieces.
Do you like creating period-pieces?
I love designing for period plays. It's always so fun to dig into another time and place and get a sense of what life was like. The early 1940's were a high-stakes period with the war and rationing efforts in full effect, and you get to see a little of that in the simplicity of the design, along with the need for some joyful escapism. The piece has a very male-heavy cast, which is sometimes harder to design since you're dealing with a lot of suits and pants, but I think I've found ways to make the clothing for each of the characters very unique to his or her personality. Being the holidays, I loved injecting a lot of color into a darker time in history.
What was the most fun part of costume designing for A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol?
Well, one of my favorite things was making the period accurate Rosie the Riveter overalls with a couple of my students (from Cornell College). Even though we only see them on Sally for about two minutes in the show, they're my favorite piece. I was also excited to use the fabulous green plaid jacket on Fritz.
What was the toughest part of costume designing for A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol?
As with most shows at the Old Creamery, the turnaround time for putting up a play is incredibly short (about 3 weeks from the first meetings and rehearsal to opening day), where I am used to an academic calendar where we have 6-8 weeks to put up a production. It made for very full busy days of costume fittings, but there's certainly an adrenaline rush from getting a show in shape so quickly. It certainly helped to have designed and been on-site for Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike just a few weeks earlier, which involved a lot of familiar people.
How long have you been costume designing for theatrical productions?
I am about fourteen years into my career as a Costume Designer. I have been designing costumes for plays and musicals since the end of my Undergrad years as a Studio Art major at UNI and have designed 4-6 plays a year since I started my Grad school years at the U of Iowa. I think I have designed for just over 60 plays.
Have you ever been in a performance yourself?
I was a big time theatre kid growing up, taking eight years of classes at Steben's Children's Theatre in Mason City, IA. I have actually been in two productions of A Christmas Carol myself--playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in 5th grade school production and Martha in 7th grade at Steben's. I was in a lot of musicals in high school and a few in college. My last role was Sheila in the musical Hair at UNI way back in 2000. I would love to get back on stage again one of these days.
What do you like to do besides design costumes and sewing?
These days, my favorite things involve spending time with my kids, who are also interested in just about everything. It's so fun to introduce them to theatre, film, music, and the visual arts. We are a family of makers and artists and I love passing those passions on to the next generation.