Submission Title

Designing a Costume for Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom

Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

Subject Area

Theatre Arts

Description

Laurel Peterson, Linfield College’s resident costume designer and shop manager, and I were tasked with a very unique project last fall: creating a costume for Mariko Kajita’s character in Jennifer Haley’s play Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom. It was special because Kajita’s role was that of the leader of a group of artificial intelligence-esque characters, or “walkthroughs,” who lead the audience through the dynamics of both the play and the game within the play. The idea was for them to have an ominous, powerful, and somewhat menacing quality to them, and Kajita was to be the epitome of that mood, while also emphasizing both her femininity and Japanese features (because she is a Japanese actress).

In addition to the specific demands for her character, this project was unique because we were under time restrictions. Because her character appears mostly on screen during the play, video production had to take place early on in the rehearsal process, meaning her costume, hair, and makeup designs had to be completed within approximately a week and a half. Because of this, we started small. I began my research of artificial intelligence (A.I.), druid, Japanese, and other fantasy characters, compiling features that could come together into a costume that would make Kajita look mysterious, alluring, and fiercely badass.

We decided to build a custom, cropped bolero-esque jacket, which we would pair with more typical garments (a black camisole, leggings, and boots). This was my first experience draping and patterning from scratch, and Laurel guided me through each step, allowing me to execute them myself—from taping my style lines onto a dress form, to slashing and spreading paper along the form to create the wide, up-standing collar, to finalizing pattern pieces, cutting them out, and sewing them together. Some of the most difficult parts of this process were making decisions: which fabric to purchase (wool and pleather)? How thick to make the trim (two inches)? How to create closures (make fake ones with hooks and eyes)?

In addition to the costume, I was tasked to develop ideas for Kajita’s hair and makeup. I began with the makeup, thinking of lines, shapes, and colors that might emulate those of the druids or A.I.s I had researched, or enhance her Japanese look. I decided upon an ombre mask-effect over her eyes, creating a sharp line of black just above her eyebrows that extends from her hairline at her temple into the inner corner of her eyebrow. This pans down into a lighter blue, creating a visual dichotomy of the harsh black line and the misty, mysteriously fading blue. I copied this look in her lip makeup, penning her upper lip in black and the blue ombre in a strip down her bottom lip and chin, to suggest the other-worldly nature of her role. My choices for her hair were chiefly based off of revealing the harsh line of her eye-makeup on her forehead (so we curled her bangs to sit higher on her face) and to bring out the intensity of the wide, up-standing collar (by pulling her hair back).

These decisions appeared successful for our first run of the show. After having our production accepted to perform at KC-ACTF this year, however, we were given an extra budget to further develop Kajita’s costume (and make her ever more badass). Accordingly, I matured the other pieces of her costume by designing a bodice to replace the camisole, choosing patterned pleather leggings to replace the plain jersey ones, and selecting a pair of high-heeled, detailed pleather boots to add height, femininity, and authority to her character. I chose to keep the entire costume black, and reused the pleather from the jacket, but also incorporated an embossed, diamond pattern pleather into the bodice, to give it more texture and intrigue.

The only thing I built among the costume additions was the bodice, for which I got to use some of the skills I had acquired building corsets for Linfield’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as what I learned from draping and patterning the cropped jacket. In the end, this opportunity to design a character’s entire look (costume, hair, and makeup) taught me an array of new costuming skills, from design choices, to problem solving, to construction, as well as the processes for each of these. Without Laurel’s help, I would have had immense trouble navigating myself through the steps it takes to create a costume, especially something so fitted and customized. Her guidance was invaluable, and her generosity in sharing this opportunity with me has been an experience of a (collegiate) lifetime.

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May 15th, 12:15 PM May 15th, 1:30 PM

Designing a Costume for Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

Laurel Peterson, Linfield College’s resident costume designer and shop manager, and I were tasked with a very unique project last fall: creating a costume for Mariko Kajita’s character in Jennifer Haley’s play Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom. It was special because Kajita’s role was that of the leader of a group of artificial intelligence-esque characters, or “walkthroughs,” who lead the audience through the dynamics of both the play and the game within the play. The idea was for them to have an ominous, powerful, and somewhat menacing quality to them, and Kajita was to be the epitome of that mood, while also emphasizing both her femininity and Japanese features (because she is a Japanese actress).

In addition to the specific demands for her character, this project was unique because we were under time restrictions. Because her character appears mostly on screen during the play, video production had to take place early on in the rehearsal process, meaning her costume, hair, and makeup designs had to be completed within approximately a week and a half. Because of this, we started small. I began my research of artificial intelligence (A.I.), druid, Japanese, and other fantasy characters, compiling features that could come together into a costume that would make Kajita look mysterious, alluring, and fiercely badass.

We decided to build a custom, cropped bolero-esque jacket, which we would pair with more typical garments (a black camisole, leggings, and boots). This was my first experience draping and patterning from scratch, and Laurel guided me through each step, allowing me to execute them myself—from taping my style lines onto a dress form, to slashing and spreading paper along the form to create the wide, up-standing collar, to finalizing pattern pieces, cutting them out, and sewing them together. Some of the most difficult parts of this process were making decisions: which fabric to purchase (wool and pleather)? How thick to make the trim (two inches)? How to create closures (make fake ones with hooks and eyes)?

In addition to the costume, I was tasked to develop ideas for Kajita’s hair and makeup. I began with the makeup, thinking of lines, shapes, and colors that might emulate those of the druids or A.I.s I had researched, or enhance her Japanese look. I decided upon an ombre mask-effect over her eyes, creating a sharp line of black just above her eyebrows that extends from her hairline at her temple into the inner corner of her eyebrow. This pans down into a lighter blue, creating a visual dichotomy of the harsh black line and the misty, mysteriously fading blue. I copied this look in her lip makeup, penning her upper lip in black and the blue ombre in a strip down her bottom lip and chin, to suggest the other-worldly nature of her role. My choices for her hair were chiefly based off of revealing the harsh line of her eye-makeup on her forehead (so we curled her bangs to sit higher on her face) and to bring out the intensity of the wide, up-standing collar (by pulling her hair back).

These decisions appeared successful for our first run of the show. After having our production accepted to perform at KC-ACTF this year, however, we were given an extra budget to further develop Kajita’s costume (and make her ever more badass). Accordingly, I matured the other pieces of her costume by designing a bodice to replace the camisole, choosing patterned pleather leggings to replace the plain jersey ones, and selecting a pair of high-heeled, detailed pleather boots to add height, femininity, and authority to her character. I chose to keep the entire costume black, and reused the pleather from the jacket, but also incorporated an embossed, diamond pattern pleather into the bodice, to give it more texture and intrigue.

The only thing I built among the costume additions was the bodice, for which I got to use some of the skills I had acquired building corsets for Linfield’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as what I learned from draping and patterning the cropped jacket. In the end, this opportunity to design a character’s entire look (costume, hair, and makeup) taught me an array of new costuming skills, from design choices, to problem solving, to construction, as well as the processes for each of these. Without Laurel’s help, I would have had immense trouble navigating myself through the steps it takes to create a costume, especially something so fitted and customized. Her guidance was invaluable, and her generosity in sharing this opportunity with me has been an experience of a (collegiate) lifetime.