Making his Alliance Theatre debut with Pride & Prejudice, costume designer Michael Krass has multiple Broadway credits and heads the Design Program for the Playwrights Horizons studio of New York University. He talked about whether Pride & Prejudice came with any special challenges and explained why he doesn't touch needle and thread.
Do you do most of your work at a sewing machine, at a drafting table, or in meetings?
I do not touch a sewing machine. I don't sew. I never have. I'm an idea guy. My job is to figure out how, for example, a strange nerd would look in the 1820s. I'll ask the directors and actors, "Who would this character be today?" If they say, 'He's really well-dressed, but he's a nerd," then I have to research and see how that person would look in 1815. I go shopping through history, like I would at T.J. Maxx. I also supervise the drapers, and they're the heroes of this business.
Is it harder designing a period-piece play like Pride & Prejudice, with many characters, than a show that's smaller or contemporary?
The public probably defines my work by bulk, by amount of costumes, or thinks, "It's old-fashioned, so it must be hard." Unless there's lots of feathers and sequins, they don't think I did much. But it's always the same process. Right now, I'm doing a new, three-character play in suburban New Jersey, but I always have to figure out who they are. Sometimes, character defines itself with plastic bubbles and Styrofoam bodies, other times, character defines itself in a trip to Macy's.
For Pride & Prejudice, was it hard to balance making the costumes look authentic while being comfortable for fast-paced stage acting?
I was very interested in them looking like real clothes, but possibly prettier. The challenge is, how do you make a real, delicate, almost transparent dress that can come off in 18 to 20 seconds and last for six months? Also, there's always a risk that clothes from this period will end up looking like prom dresses. Here we did the research and said, "Look at these pictures: Their boobs are under their chins! How are we going to do that?" We thought some of the actors wouldn't respond well to corsets -- even though that might be more authentic -- because that would restrict the actress's behavior. They tried nearly a hundred different bras to find the ones that would haul the breasts up the right way.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
"In response to Oydave's comment, "Look at the two pieces. Is the second a rip-off…
Tons of Atlanta artists use colorful geometric shapes. But to copy the exact colors, the…