If I weren’t an actor, I’d be a costume designer. It’s like magic.I tried on my costume today. My character, for the first time, magically APPEARED before my eyes! (Insert applause here.) For an actor, that is a powerful image to draw upon. It’s my favorite part of the rehearsal process. Why? For one, such rich detail and craftsmanship go into costume design, the fabrics, the undergarments, the shoes, the colors. (Someone say “yes” to Lily’s Spencer coat!)
Secondly, “The Christmas Carol” centers around the theme of “giving, giving, giving!” That theme certainly extends to the exquisite authenticity and beauty of the garments worn on stage. There’s a lovely camaraderie amongst the McCarter Costume Shop Team. It’s a group of gorgeous women who care about the work that goes into making each character distinct and real. It’s not just about making someone look attractive on stage-although that takes skill, too!
I believe it takes a three dimensional understanding of why someone chooses to wear something. “What kind of woman would wear something like this?” Why do YOU wear the clothes you do? There’s a reason why they say the “devil wears prada.” It’s a psychological puzzle that the Costume Shop Team figures out for the ENTIRE show. The clothes worn further define for the me what my characters value, where they come from, what they think of themselves, what they believe. And from that spring many more choices for me to make when I create my interpretation of who these women might be.
We ALL work together to fully transport the audience out of their seats and into Charles Dickens’ wintry London world. If just for two hours…it’s magic! Seriously…it is.
Posted by Karen Pittman, who plays Lily and Belle in McCarter Theatre’s Production of A Christmas Carol.
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