First Quarter Designer’s Ingenious Creations (DIC)

Now presenting for your perusal, dear reader, The Bad Oracle’s newest round of art-based recognition: Designer’s Ingenious Creations (DIC).  The DIC is the design companion to the ASS (Actor Stealing the Spotlight)  The ASS covers the actors and performers onstage, the DIC the many aesthetic choices made by other disciplines in the theater world.  As with many lovely bodies, the DIC perfectly compliments the ASS.  The brainchild of Achilles Feels, he will be judging work on craftsmanship, authenticity, design success, and beauty.  The DIC will be bestowed upon a quarterly basis and will cover different disciplines each feature.

AND THE DIC FOR FIRST QUARTER 2014 GOES TO:

 himarksilvaphoto-com-happen-3056902459-o

SABRINA MANDELL

COSTUME DESIGN

IMPOSSIBLE!  A HAPPENSTANCE CIRCUS, HAPPENSTANCE THEATER

Achilles interviewed Sabrina and, miracle of miracles, she didn’t even slap him!  Here’s how they tell me it went:

Happenstance is BUSY, do you share your costume brilliance with any other companies?

We are busy! And a good thing too! I don’t work with other companies on design work, yet… but I am always open to that; although I’m not sure how it would work since my approach is unconventional.

We here at TBO LOVE unconventional. What do you consider unconventional?

Unconventional in that there is no prescription. There is no model that exists for how I approach design or making work. I didn’t study costume design. I don’t plan a design in advance and then execute it. It emerges. Elements are tried out.

Ohh, and un-schooled talent! Tell me more!

We have the luxury of experimentation in our employ. It’s that way for our work too. We have some formulae that have evolved through time, trial, and happenstance, [AF: I see ya what did there!] but it all remains fluid, flexible. We like to keep the play in it so it doesn’t become rigid.

It is very obvious that you and your team keep the creative environment light, the work is so organic and feels unforced. Cheers to you on that! While we’re on development: How did Happenstance use the inspiration texts listed in the program to further design conversations about costume for IMPOSSIBLE!? You’ve listed some big-guns like: Charlie Chaplin, Robert Frost, and Juvenal.

Well, I looked at oodles of images from the 1930s and 1940s. What really interested me were the colors. So much color, but muted, weathered. The Taschen Circus book was a huge inspiration. [AF: it IS gorgeous!] We talked a lot about the contrast between the onstage world vs. the offstage world. That was also visible in the historical candids.

One of the main reasons I selected your work was your ability to clearly parallel worlds in such a nuanced fashion. What else do you use as inspiration?

I have a pretty large collection of vintage clothing so that informs a lot. I’m a thrift store junkie and much of my inspiration comes from scavenging. I also love perusing ephemera, vintage magazines, illustrations. Pinterest is a current vice.

It is obvious that color and texture plays a critical role in your design…. which is your favorite costume from IMPOSSIBLE!?

Wow. This is a hard question. Part of what I love are the combinations of costumes. One costume doesn’t really do the trick. It’s truly an ensemble ensemble. [AF: sooooo meta 🙂] Here is a photo of my favorite group of costumes though. The clowns at the end of the show in the Chari Vari section really pop and I love how they jive with the set (which I decorated).

Grrll, you do set decorating too? WOW, when do you ever have time for a cocktail?! Mmm… cocktail… Moving on: Does the company as a whole approach costume design in a similar manner to devising your movement works?

We do, in that it is an organic process that often starts with a magnitude of ideas and garments that become organized and selected by happenstance. They fit right, they are the right look, they can be quick-changed!

Quick change is right! How many outfits are in this show? How many pairs of shoes?

Oh yes, the quick changes are legendary. We have them in all of our shows, much to my company’s chagrin. The real show is happening backstage! [AF: which I’d LOVE to see one day!] As for number of outfits, ugh. That’s tough. Let me see if I can count…I’d say about 30 outfits for 6 performers, give or take a coat or robe. Shoes…maybe 15 or 20 pairs. We are a small ensemble, but want to show a multitude of characters. And it’s a lot of fun to dress up in a million different things!

Dress up is so much fun! Well that’s all from me here at the TBO headquarters. I want to be sure you know you’ve done an amazing job. I can’t wait to see Cabaret Macabre in the fall! Chin-chin, I raise my cocktail glass to you Sabrina!

Cheers and thank you!

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