Monday, November 23, 2015

Holly Poe Durbin: Creating Costumes for Peter and the Starcatcher

Centered around pirates and magic, Peter and the Starcatcher is a fast-paced production, giving actors the joy, and responsibility, of alternating rapidly between multiple characters. While some characters need little or no physical change, others require complete transformation. "This type of play is very much like doing a musical—once the music starts there’s little room for variation. The entire design team must create a world for the play that will enhance speed and fluidity," explains costume designer Holly Poe Durbin.

Holly says her start, working on ensemble pieces for the pre-Broadway production of Angels in America and an early version of The Kentucky Cycle, taught her about story structure and dramatic intent, which helped with this production.
The design process starts before the roles are even cast. "The director (Brendon Fox), actors and costume designer collaborate to make the thousand small decisions that bring each character to life," says Holly.  She starts by sorting through which characters are fully formed and dynamic, and which are portrayed in a partial way as fleeting momentary characters.

The design team spent hours creating a storyboard for the show with Brendon.
"Together we started forming rules about the world such as equating "star stuff," a magical substance, with light. Any character encountering it will have shiny surfaces or light qualities to their costumes. Another rule we established is identifying each moment by interpreting whose point of view we are seeing through."
After discussing these things at length with the entire team, Holly was able to put pencil to paper and begin to actually design the costumes. Her design process is broken into three steps. Holly began by doing a lot of research, which included reading the Peter and the Starcatchers books and the original Peter Pan stories. She collected images that inspire her, then curated those images into mood boards for specific characters.
Research mood boards for Black Stache and pirate costume details.

Then, Holly created pencil sketches used to bounce ideas around with Brendon. In some cases the sketches changed several times, as artists changed their ideas and Holly redesigned the characters. This phase wrapped up when casting began so Holly could work with each actor's approach and add it into the mix.

The final step was when sketches went to the PlayMakers costume shop for brainstorming with the costume team. At this stage, Holly worked with the team to solve any challenges that arose.
"It takes a large pool of specialists to create a show like Peter. PlayMakers has a spectacular reputation for being able to create a top notch stage vision and I was very excited to know I was coming here to do Peter and the Starcatcher."
Come and enjoy Peter and the Starcatcher. Onstage through December 12.

For tickets, click here or call our Box Office at 919-962-7529.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lighting Designer Xavier Pierce on Finding Inspiration

To set the mood for Peter and the Starcatcher, lighting designer Xavier Pierce found inspiration from a variety of places, from his home in New York City and the work of artist Victor Eredel, to pictures and artwork such as the images we see below.

To begin designing for a play, Xavier reads the script and filters through the words, sifting through his "own emotional database of living." He does this in an effort to make emotional connections with the words, then creates lighting that coincides with those emotions. Xavier describes this picture as "starstuff." He says, it's "an organic/spiritual compound used to reinvent nature as the beholder sees it in the mind."

The artist of the photo to the right, Victor Eredel, "is a visual artist who uses hyper lucid surrealistic backgrounds with hand developed beings in his work. The storytelling and visual superiority of his works spoke to me, embraced me and inspired me to dream about the play as small children dream," explained Xavier.

When asked about his experiences designing at PlayMakers (4000 Miles, The Mountaintop), Xavier replied, "I think of PlayMakers as home... I feel so much warmth when I step through the doors of the Paul Green Theatre. I open up the doors and see my brothers and sisters working hard doing their craft and being passionate about theatre."

"The Neverland and the Wasp" 

 Here's an example a sketch by Xavier; he uses drawings to help visualize and create the lighting for each scene.

"We dreamed as kids and now we dream as artists"

Dream with us as Peter and the Starcatcher takes the stage November 18 - December 12.

Click here or call our Box Office 919-962-7529 for tickets.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Let's Go Flying with Brendon Fox

Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

"Imagine a mashup of Treasure Island, Harry Potter and Monty Python, involving magic, friendship, first love, and flying cats. Something for everyone!"

- Director Brendon Fox
describing Peter and the Starcatcher 

Most children have fantasized about flying, and director Brendon Fox was no different. For him, flying meant freedom and exploration, and more importantly, escaping adults who told him what he could and couldn't do.

Director Brendon Fox
Brendon, in addition to directing at theatres across the country, including Opus and Angels in America for PlayMakers, is an Assistant Professor of Drama at Washington College in Maryland. He says that as much as he wanted to catch a production of Peter and the Starcatcher in the past, he's glad he didn't have the chance as this has allowed him to come to our production with fresh eyes.

Brendon confides that he's fallen in love with so many things about this production: "The play manages to capture a sincere sense of wonder and imagination." It incorporates music and puppets, while holding onto the imagination required to play "make believe."

Peter and the Starcatcher tells the story an orphan boy with no name and a Starcatcher-in-Training in the late 19th century, as they strive to keep magical "starstuff" out of the hands of pirates and other nefarious characters.
"The young people having adventures in Peter and the Starcatcher have the time of their lives, encountering dastardly pirates, crazy weather, animals out to eat them, and exotic natives of foreign islands. This show invites us to live vicariously through them – to see the world through their eyes, full of danger, joy, laughter, and even experience some hard lessons about growing up. "
Magic and wonder of childhood. Photo by Heather Perry

The sheer size of the production presents challenges and opportunities for the cast and crew. Brendon compares the scope of Starcatcher to that of a Shakespearean production with a large cast, many locations and interpretations unique to each situation.
"The cast has to be incredibly versatile to transform into so many characters, often in front of the audience. The design team and I have spent six months going over every moment and location in the play, and have storyboarded (like a film shoot) how we are going to evoke every location and approach events ranging from a storm onstage to a dense jungle."
This has put the creative team to the test like kids playing with found objects and using their imagination to create a pirate ship or an island. Brendon says this encourages audiences to fill in the blanks. "We're not trying to be too literal or spell things out for those watching the play." Ideally, he wants the audience to view the show through the eyes of a preteen, though the show is full of humor, heart and magic for all ages.

Ready to fly? Join us for Peter and the Starcatcher November 18 - December 12.

Click here or call our Box Office at 919-962-7529 for tickets.

Meet the Creators of Peter and the Starcatcher

Writers Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson don pirate regalia.

As our production sets sail, we invite you to meet the inventive originators of Peter and the Starcatcher!

Rick Elice
Rick Elice (adaptation). Born in New York City in 1956, Elice attended Cornell University and the Yale School of Drama. Additional Broadway credits include Jersey Boys (co-authored with Marshall Brickman, 2006), and The Addams Family (again with Brickman as collaborator, 2010). Regional and international works include Turn of the Century (2008), the thriller Double Double (with Roger Rees), Leonardo’s Ring and the musical Dog and Pony (both 2003), and the Studio 54 musical, 15 Minutes (2015). Elice also co-authored the film adaptation of Jersey Boys, directed by Clint Eastwood (2014).

Wayne Barker (music). Additional Broadway credits include Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance! (composer and co-lyricist with Barry Humphries, 2004). Regional credits range from The Great Gatsby, and Twelfth Night to The Three Musketeers (all 2006). Television: The children’s series, A Little Curious (1998-2000). Other: Chicago City Limits, the Raymond Scott Orchestrette, and performances in orchestras worldwide. Barker is an artistic associate for new musicals at the New York Theatre Workshop.

Dave Barry
Dave Barry (novel). Born in Armonk, New York in 1947, Barry is a prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of more than two dozen books, alternating fiction with non-fiction. His most recent works include the novel Insane City (2013) and a collection of essays Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster) (2015).

Fun fact: humorist Dave Barry helped put International Talk Like a Pirate Day on the map by promoting it in his syndicated newspaper column. "Aarrrr!!!"

Ridley Pearson (novel). Born in Glen Cove, New York in 1953, Pearson has also written the award-winning Young Adult series Kingdom Keepers, set inside Disney theme parks, as well as best-selling crime novels for adults. In 1990, he was the first American awarded Oxford University’s Raymond Chandler-Fulbright Fellowship.

Ahoy, mateys! Join us for Peter and the Starcatcher November 18 - December 12.

Click here or call our Box Office at 919-962-7529 for tickets.