Monday, January 30, 2012

"Infinite Possibilities" by Jen Caprio

Jennifer Caprio

Jennifer is the Costume Designer for The Making of the King.

Hi!  This is Jen Caprio, the costume designer for the Making of a King repertory.

I write this blog entry from tonight's work session for Henry IV.  Mike Winters is performing Falstaff as I write, a force of talent that is beyond enjoyable to watch.  We made it through 4 long days of technical rehearsals and the plays are in incredible shape.  No matter how many times I see this cast in costume onstage, I am consistently interested in their choices and performance. 
This project has been one of those special theatrical experiences that comes along once in a blue moon (maybe a Carolina blue one? is that what makes it so special?). When Joe contacted me this past fall to take part in this ambitious project, I switched around my schedule to design the clothes.  It is rare that you get to design a project of this scope, telling the arc of a character such as Hal/Henry all in one fell swoop.  The choices you have to make clothing wise knowing a character's outcome for a 2nd night of theater informs the first plays' choices in ways you don't get to experience otherwise.  On top of that, Mike and Joe's decision to take the plays out of period, but to not set them on a modern setting, is a designer's dream.  On one hand, it is more difficult a choice because I have to make up a world, and have infinite possibilities.  On the other hand, I have infinite possibilities and am not restricted to suits or codpieces.

We chose to place these characters' clothing into a timelessness that audiences can identify as similar to their own (pants and long coats) versus putting up that wall of a costumey-time long long ago and far far away (tights and doublets). It also keeps us out of saying that Hal or his father are any political figures of today.  The story we are more interested in telling is that of fathers and sons, and of the atrocities and consequence of wars, not this one we just "Finished", not Agincourt, but any and all wars.  The collaboration on these plays has been unified from the outset-it's been such a great experience working with Jan Chambers (the set designer) so tightly in color palate and texture-it helps to tell a more clear story.  It had also been a treat working with Jennifer Tipton (our lighting designer)-so often lighting can make or break a play, and she paints a beautiful picture with the light.

I should also say that the work from the costume shop has been spectacular.  I am continually impressed by the training program at UNC, and feel very blessed to come to work every day in this environment. There are over 100 costumes, 600 or so pieces at least, 60+ pairs of shoes, and I don't even want to count the belts!  We are working on opera scale (huge!) and it is an impressive sight to see all the clothes in the dressing rooms and in the halls on racks. 

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The Making of a King: Henry IV and Henry V runs January 28 to March 4. Click here for more information and tickets.