The Official Blog of the
Williamstown Theatre Festival

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Interview | Nicole V. Moody, THUNDER Costume Designer

Production Dramaturg Clare Drobot had the chance to sit down with Costume Designer Nicole V. Moody and talk through her work on the world premiere of What is the Cause of Thunder? by Noah Haidle, directed by Justin Waldman.

Clare Drobot: What was your path into becoming a designer, and how did you end up involved with Williamstown?

Nicole Moody: I decided in undergrad [on being a designer], which was when I was doing costume design and then continued on through grad school. My Williamstown path: I was in grad school and I initially came up as an intern and got bumped to staff, like within a week. So then I was a design assistant that summer. The next summer I came back, and I was the assistant shop manager and crafts lead. And then I was freelancing in Boston and what not. And then this year Justin [Waldman, the director and WTF Artistic Associate] asked me up to design.

CD: I would love it if you could take me through your process for designing a show.

NM: Well first I usually start off reading the script, of course. And then I’ll usually re-read it. The first time I read it for enjoyment. The second time I’ll read it and start making notations in it, ideas that have come up. And then I usually get in contact with the director and the other designers and just start throwing ideas around, seeing where it develops and what the director wants to do with it. I usually take that back, process it, come up with some ideas, and do some research for it. Then I usually show the research to the director and other designers and what not. Get feedback, we chat about it some more. Then I’ll do my rough sketches. Then I’ll show those, again, discuss it, and then do the finals. And that’s up until we actually get into rehearsal.

After that, I’m a big believer in actor feedback and really playing with it. The renderings that I do, they’re purely just tools. So even though we sketch something, we might see during the rehearsal process or in the fitting that it’s going to evolve. The actor might have feedback like: what’s really working for the character or what they found out about it. So it’s a very hands on, playful, sort of process.

CD: How did you create a color palate for the show? I know you initially had Ada in purples in the initial sketches.

NM: Justin had sent me the pictures of what the set looked like. A lot of time the set colors get decided first, then costumes. So taking a look at that and just kind of feeling what might be right for the character. The jewel tones were a more sophisticated look, which is what her character is. And then the difficulty with this show, or any modern dress, is really seeing what’s out there and what colors are available or what can you dye to get those colors that you need. So we just did a bunch of shopping and played and talked with Wendy [Malick, playing Ada] in the fitting. You know, there are certain colors that just look better on her than other ones. So it shifted a bit, but it’s still in the general palate.

CD: Very cool. Thank kind of leads into another question. You’ve worked on such a wide range of shows. Do you gravitate toward new plays or do you prefer period pieces?

NM: I think they’re both great in separate ways. Period stuff is always fun, just to play with time and play the period. Modern shows are great, because sometimes it gives you—some of the newer plays are a little more experimental and playful, so you can kind of twist them a bit more. And then there’s the in betweens where it’s period, but you can start doing a modern twist to it. That’s one of the great things about classic pieces (and depending on who your director is and the team and the concept for the show) is where you can take it to. Why is it period? Is period important to the piece? So I don’t have a preference. They’re all kind of great. Opera is fantastic because it uses such a wide range. There are no set rules. It’s a free for all, you know? Which is always fun.

CD: One of the things with this play is that you have all these quick changes, especially for Ophelia. How did you begin to troubleshoot that and what challenges did that present to you?

NM: Well, there’s a lot of challenges. First, what you have to do is not think about the technical aspect of it. You have to design the show, what fits the script. From there I start thinking about “Okay, how do we quick rig this? What do we do?” What pieces can play on two characters played by the same person. Like the boots for Bathsheba are also the ones for Ophelia. One of the ideas Justin and I talked about, with Ada getting these worlds confused, was to have bits and pieces of the [wardrobe of both] worlds go back and forth.

And I’ve run wardrobe tons of times. I’m great with quick changes. So yes, I knew they were coming up, then I also know how to problem solve it and I know that people up here will also know how to problem solve it.

It’s one of those shows where you have to actually know the times, so you know what a quick change is. Because for us, a minute thirty is not a quick change. Like the stage manager said, “This change is a minute, thirty” and we were like “Oh. My god. We can change her twice and put her back on.”

CD: Yeah, that’s still fast to me. Ok, last fun question. Do you have any costuming pet peeves, things that drive you nuts?

NM: What’s most annoying, is just…Costumes shouldn’t be thought of as costumes. They should be thought of as clothes. They should be lived in and worn, and so there’s always an attachment certain people have. The people making--you know, they’re so proud of this garment, and you’re like “Great! Now let’s totally eff it up. You did this fantastic job, now let’s trash it.”

CD: Right, get it on stage and get it worn.

NM: It’s always hard getting over that hump. Having people be ok with it. They kind of look at you like you’re crazy. Like “Oh my god. You spent all this money on fabric and time and effort!”

CD: It has to be your baby, a little bit, right?

NM: Yeah, and that’s the other thing. It’s very hard to give over control of certain things. Dying things or painting. But once you do it, it’s done. And I’d rather have me do it, because at least if it’s me, I can blame myself. I don’t have to yell at someone. I’m sure there’s tons of others, but on the spot.

CD: No, no, it’s perfect. Words of wisdom. Thanks you so much!

No comments:

Post a Comment