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Finding Urban Commonalities Through Clothing and Spirituality: Costume Research Reflection on In The Red and Brown Water


Dreams, grillz, water metaphors.

Keeping it simple in the `hood.

Am I allowed to say that?

White girl from the D.

Near the D.

Specific, identifiable clothing.

Profile of a gang leader.

Similar to priest, chief, sergeant. Hut!

Red masquerade clothe with intricate patterns.

Like graffiti. Like chaos.

Like those buildings you saw as a little girl.

Driving away from the D.

Esu. Obatala. Yemonja.

Mary. Susie. Grandma.

Embody the reality of opportunity.

Identifying that which is around you.

Not some passive mother figure.

Tell that story.

Ghetto mindset.

Am I allowed to say that?

Don't be afraid to talk to me about my hair.

Think you know something `bout it?

White girl from the D.

Near the D.

Before the design, comes the research. Before the research, comes an understanding. Removing your pretense, your assumptions and whatever it is you thought you knew so that you can open your eyes and see how the clothing tells the story. In preparing for the costume design of In the Red and Brown Water, I needed an overwhelming sense of the characters to successfully clothe them in a contemporary, urban setting of the Louisiana projects.

Finding commonalities in dress, why people wear what they do, how they wear it, the colors, shapes and fit of the clothing chosen all became avenues to understanding the character and ultimately clothing them. Choice, and even spirituality in the ritual of dress is something we can all relate to, a common thread to understanding one another.

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