The Dybbuk of Dachau
The Dybbuk of Dachau
Director: Eric Forsythe
Stage Manager: Gwyneth Forsythe
Scenic Designer: Chelsea June Regan
Costume Designer: Chelsea June Regan
Lighting Designer: Will Borich
Budget for this Design Area
Comments by the Designer
The Dybbuk of Dachau debuted as part of the 2017/2018 Gallery Series, written by University of Iowa alumnus Charles Green. The show is set in the 1940s during the Holocaust, in the concentration camp Dachau. A Jewish mother attempts to escape the concentration camp with her beloved son Asher. As they try to find an escape, they are met by her sister in the form of a Dybbuk, a lost soul of a person who has passed and possesses the body of another. Together they relive their past and journey to their future.
The costume design for the show centered on the humanity and individual story of each character. Since this piece took place in a concentration camp, there was the option to put the characters in uniforms, however I wanted to give the audience more insight into who these characters were rather than dehumanize them in camp uniforms. This meant I had to give the actors costumes that were more representative of how they would look when arriving to Dachau rather, than what they looked like months into being there. I was able to use photographs of people who had been deported to concentration camps in the 1940s as primary research for this. I designed coats, skirts, and hats that were similar to what Jewish families would have access to in ghettos. While each garment reflected pieces that people wore in the 1940s, I wanted to add more depth to them, by distressing them, to not only show that the fabrics were worn down, but to reflect the emotional experience each character was going through. Along with their destressed costumes, I added the stars of David to each costume that denoted that the characters were Jewish and had been marked so by the Nazi government.
When addressing the scenic design of the set, I aimed to create a space that felt empty and vast. This meant utilizing black masking and only having a few pieces of furniture including a bunk bed that was designed to look like the bunks from the Dachau concentration camp. There was also a table and two benches which were moved and manipulated by the actors to become doors, shelters, and more as they journey through the camp. The paint treatment of all of the furniture was a dull and aged wood graining to exemplify the lack of care that had been giving to the living conditions of camp prisoners. Having such little scenery allowed the focus of the production to be on the emotional journey of the characters rather than a journey anchored by place or space.
The playwright wanted to focus on the haunting memories of the lost ones, and our ability to cope and find peace in dire situations. For this design, I wanted to accommodate the playwright’s focus of giving humanity and a story to victims of the Holocaust whose stories Nazis tried to erase, by taking inspiration from the stories of real victims and letting the characters be the most fleshed out element of the design.
Copyright 2020 Chelsea June