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"Poetic Simplicity and Embracing the Unexpected" Exploring Character Body Costume Design In Two Theatrical Productions: Burial at Thebes and Mr. Burns

  • Author(s): O'Neill, Janet Lynn
  • Advisor(s): Dolan, Judith
  • et al.
Abstract

ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS

"Poetic Simplicity and Embracing the Unexpected"

Exploring Character Body Costume Design In Two Theatrical Productions: Burial at Thebes and Mr. Burns

by

Janet O'Neill

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance (Design) University of California, San Diego, 2015 Professor Judith Dolan, Chair

MR.BURNS:

Act One, Present Day: The introduction of these very different people meeting under extreme circumstances provided an opportunity to use the actors' preexisting character traits. Costumes are not clothing, they represent character. Each item on each actor's body exposes bits of who they are and how they have coped with the fall of society.

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Act Two, Seven Years Later: Without power, but with years to reestablish livable conditions, these same characters created a system of survival. Scavenged assortments of random fashions show what was once luxury has been defaced for functionality.

Act Three, Seventy-Seven Years Later: With the establishment of culture over the preceding seven decades, items and colors have evolved to express greater spectacle and magnificence. Natural fibers and hand-made items create touches of this future "fashion."

BURIAL AT THEBES:

Each character's silhouette is built around the images we see so frequently on the news, in papers and in social media. Color is the distinguishing factor to visually delineate class and position within the dress of a contemporary world. Harking back to clothing shown in classical art, the royal-presidential family imitates colors of Greek "Red-Figure" pottery: red, black, and orange. These became the colors of Thebes. Those of lower status were muted in a gray wash, much like the white and gray of statues in classical art. The clean, contemporary style lines built to sculpt each body with a tightly controlled color palette, aim for poetic simplicity.

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