Sunday in the Park with George
Director: Alan MacVey Scenic Design: Nic Wilson Costume Design: Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn Lighting Design: Bryon Winn Sound Design: Bri Atwood Stage Manager: AJ Near
E.C. Mabie Theatre
Budget for this Design Area
Comments by the Designer
As a costume designer, Sunday in the Park with George offers up an amazing opportunity coupled with a challenge—to interpret the figures in Georges Seurat’s painting in a way that is meaningful to the style of the individual production. In my case, I wanted the costumes to compliment the director’s vision of these characters as real, tangible people who inhabited a world of color and light. To do so, I employed the use of texture as a means of translating the dots of the pointillism style of painting—rather than conform to the blocked colors of the painting, I drew inspiration form the individual dots of color. Every garment in the first act had some element of texture, whether it was the visual texture of the print on Yvonne’s skirt or the tangible texture created by the mix of different fabrics like wool, tweed, and lace. This can be seen most notably in the bodice that Dot wears for the final moment of Act I, where George brings together the painting for the final tableau. The bodice was built for the show and was made from an under layer of silk brocade containing all of the colors present in Seurat’s original painting. The over layer was a hatch patterned lace with allowed the brocade to shine through. Act II provides an interesting design challenge. Taking place in 1984, the audience sees all the same actors inhabiting different roles but offering the same commentary and critique on the process of making art. To show the contrast between these two time periods, I used to color blocking in lieu of visual and physical texture to capture the essence of the 1980’s. Each performer has details which harken back to their former life in the first act, although not all characters are necessarily connected.
Our Sunday in the Park with George had 17 actors and a total of 40 full costume looks. In order to achieve the look of the painting, there were 7 full period costumes build in the University of Iowa Costume Shop. In addition to the costumes that were built in the shop, fabric was purchased to have custom menswear made elsewhere for several characters, including George and Jules. The remaining costumes came from a combination of rentals, purchases and stock at the University of Iowa Costume shop. In total there were nearly 400 pieces in the show with a budget of $8,250.
Looking back on Sunday in the Park with George I find that the use of texture to honor the integrity of the original painting proved to be a strong choice to unifying the overall production. The textures and colors of the costumes related both to Seurat’s original painting, and also played into the texture of the other design elements. I used fabric as my way of ‘painting’ the world, relying on patterns and fabrics to tell the same visual story that George’s Suerat strived for.
Copyright 2019 Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn