Great Emergencies


Hayley Ryan


Sean Demers

Production Team

Director: Sean Demers and Nina Morrison Scenic Design: Nic Wilson Costume Design: Hayley Ryan Lighting Design: Angie Esposito Sound Design: Jacob Sikorski Stage Manager: Katy McGlaughlin


David Thayer Theatre


Spring 2016

Comments by the Designer

Great Emergencies is a new work written by University of Iowa alumnus Sean Demers. The play premiered in 2016 as part of the Iowa New Play Festival. Great Emergencies is a historical play that centers on President Chester A. Arthur and his correspondences with a woman named Julia I. Sand. The playwright set out to write a play that highlights the impact a young cripple woman had on the presidency by urging him to unite and reform the Republican party. Even though Julia was a young crippled woman, her impact on politics has been long lasting. As a costume designer, one of the biggest challenges was to accommodate the span of time from 1881 to 1933 for 18 actors. Within that fifty-year span, there are many different fashion silhouettes. My goal was to showcase a silhouette that could bridge the span of time, but also remain within a small budget. For the women I created draped fabric swags that were worn over skirts and blouses to give a sense of the fashion bustle period. I was able to suggest indoor and outdoor scenes through the men’s costumes. For outdoor scenes the men wore suit jackets and hats. To suggest indoor scenes, the men wore button down shirts and vests.

Overall, these large gestures of design were able to clue in the audience to time period but also give them a sense of whether the scene took place indoor or outdoor.

Student Type



Copyright 2016 Hayley Ryan