Howard, David T. [faculty advisor, Theatre]
costuming, design, Shepard
In the process of designing the costumes for a show, it is important to understand the psyche of each of the characters. The completion of thorough research can give valuable insight into the characters, as well as details of the setting of the play. A designer then takes this information, in the form of photographs, journals, period documents, and modern analysis and combines it to achieve a unified vision of the play’s environment. They must then work with the director and other designers to present this vision to the audience. This semester, I had the opportunity to explore this process when I was chosen to design the costumes for URI Theatre’s production of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, winner of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play is a chilling and macabre look at American family life. Sam Shepard presents a normal family, but as the play progresses and we learn more about the characters we are forced to challenge that assumption. As we begin to question the normalcy of this fictional family, Shepard challenges his audience to question the façade that every American family presents to the world around them, and whether the "normal" family even exists. It seems, after all, that every family has that one thing that is not to be talked about. The first part of this semester was spent on the actual design of the show - developing it from vague images and feelings to real clothing for the characters of the show. The second part of the semester was spent both critiquing my work and expanding my knowledge of the themes present in this work. I did this by further analyzing Buried Child along with other works by Sam Shepard.