I really loved designing and putting the costumes together for the two main characters. Unfortunately, my budget for costumes was very tight, and I didn't have the ability to sew or hire someone to bring my sketches to life. What resulted, however, I think is far better than my original idea.
Inspiration: It is no secret that my work at The New Victory Theater played a huge role in my creation of this work. It was at the New Vic where I first fell in love with circus arts and made friends with clowns. The characters are inspired by fictional acrobats that took center stage at our annual Family Benefit.
I knew I wanted my costumes to look similar. I also knew that I wanted to have a male and female in clothing that was generally gender ambiguous. Similarly to the original version of these characters, I thought about my characters (a male and female) wearing mustaches and creating comedy through the wearing of, switching of, falling off of these mustaches. I realized, however, that might take away from my original goal of physical movement. I needed to keep the story simple and create costumes that highlighted these movements.
Sketch: Once I confirmed my cast, I formally put my ideas on paper. Yes, that is crayon.
Styling: I realized that I couldn't just make this costume. I needed to style it. I needed to pull from stores and my own wardrobe to put it together. I immediately ran to Target to find the base. The women's fitness-wear section provided me with the shirt (which I then had tailored to the actor) and shorts.
I must have visited every athletic store in Northern New Jersey this summer. I could not find green sweatbands and knee-high socks. Even an online search was fruitless. Finally, it came to me! American Apparel!
Lastly came the shoes. I wanted to create a costume that was simple; something that a kid could put together from their clothes or borrowing parents' clothes. These simple pieces could transform the average kid viewer into the character with little trouble. I nearly fainted when I saw the new streamlined Converse sneakers with simple, flat bottoms. They remind me so much of the Cons they sell for youngsters.
I needed to make sure the costume worked. Also, it was too tempting not to try it on myself.
Fitting: Finally, I fitted my actors to make sure everything looked right. I am so pleased with the final result! (actor J'nelle Bobb-Semple)
So far, the most exciting moment of this process has been seeing my actors in costume in front of the set. It literally took my breath away for a moment. From a simple sketch came this character brought to life! I look forward to sharing more...