The Costumes of Deliver Us

Tympanic Artistic Associate and Deliver Us Costume Designer, Charlotte Jusino, shares some insight into costuming the show in this very informative blogpost: From a costume design perspective, Deliver Us From Nowhere is a big challenge. 10 plays - all with very different locations and time periods. 10 directors - all with various ideas and styles. 28 actors - of all different shapes, sizes and colors. 34 characters - each with a distinct story to tell.

In order for this piece to come together as one cohesive night of theatre, I knew I had to start with a visual through-line. I like to root my designs in some sort of image - often I'll use a particular idea the director has about the play or research on the location or time period. However, since each piece is so different, I had to go back to the basis for this entire endeavor - The Boss's album. If the plays were based on the musical element, shouldn't my designs be based on the visual element?

The album art is very striking - it truly tells a story all on its own. However, I didn't want to do the entire show in greys, reds and blacks - I thought it was too limiting for the diverse range of stories. So, I began to look at different Springsteen album covers to see what they all had in common - while still keeping "Nebraska" as my central focus. What I found was that most of the album art had a neutral toned background or main image ( in sepia, grey, black, or brown) paired with pops of bright colors (usually primaries - red, blue, and yellow), just as "Nebraska" had the black and white image paired with the red text. I had found my through-line and color story for the piece as a whole.

Next, I searched within the plays for other through-lines I could accent visually. One thing we all noticed early on was the fact that almost all the plays had a ghost or ghost-like figure involved in them - this is a Tympanic show, after all! Susan [Myburgh] and I discussed this after the big read-through, and we stumbled upon our answer - why not use a particular color accent to signify the ghosts?

Now that I had visual elements that tied the pieces together, I was able to start digging into the plays individually. The costume tech crew and I talked to the directors about any specific needs the plays called for - blood, uniforms, a particular time period etc - as well as an overall sense of what the directors wanted to the pieces to feel and look like. Utilizing the guidelines I set for myself in the color story, I created collages of inspiration images for each piece.

Now, my fantastic costume tech crew and I are busily working to collect pieces - pulling from the Tympanic stock, shopping and thrift stores and even raiding our own closets. This is my favorite part of the process - watching the designs come to life. I can't wait to see what we all find!

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Deliver Us From Nowhere: Tales From Nebraska opens April 26th and runs through May 20th at The Righ Brain Project.  Get your tickets here!

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