By Emerging Artist Stephanie Kong
Stephanie is spending the 2014/15 Season as CTYP’s Costume Associate, a position made possible by the BC Arts Council’s Early Career Development Grant Program.
This past winter holiday was spent hiding from the cold, waiting for the turkey, and drawing up a storm for CTYP’s next show Shakespearean Rhapsody, adapted by Mike Stack and inspired by the series Shakespeare Can Be Fun by Lois Burdett (Firefly Books) and William Shakespeare. Most of December was dedicated to designing the show. I was script reading and re-reading, looking for inspiration in books, online, sometimes even staring at a wall until that “Aha!” moment came to me. I have yet to prove if that last one ever works… It was a time for me to switch hats and dive into the design world a little bit. Admittedly a world I am a bit more familiar with, but nonetheless could always use an opportunity to practice.
Shakespearean Rhapsody is a challenging show to design. Visually, the ideas came to me in an instant. I wanted to take the imagery from the Shakespeare Can Be Fun books and create them in real life. All the illustrations in these books were drawn by young people of various ages, all inspired by the stories of Shakespeare, with only the slightest idea of what that Shakespeare guy would’ve worn. Speaking as someone whose education has always been centred on what is “historically accurate” it was fun to take a step back, enjoy the stories for what they were, not thinking about where or when they might be taking place. Shakespearean Rhapsody has reminded me that while theatre is often a place of historical representation and reproduction it is also a place of innovation and creativity. The combination of these ideas is what makes theatre truly unique.
Now, here’s the hard part. How to design a show with four actors, with 39 different characters split between them, under the umbrella of three different story lines and if that wasn’t enough here’s the twist: No one leaves the stage, pretty much ever! “How will Stephanie do it?? Can she do it? Will she drive the cast bonkers???” I guess we’ll find out!
Fast-forwarding to January, the design is done! All of my sketches drawn and coloured, all approved by our fearless director Carole, time to start making things happen! I put on my admin hat briefly here, as I cost out the show making sure all that I dreamed up was actually feasible and affordable (Phew! It was!). After that it’s been shop-shop-shop ,cut-cut-cut, sew-sew-sew, and a little bit of “hmm is this gonna work or am I just nuts??”. But more on that later.