posted by Molly MacLagan, Literary Management and Dramaturgy Intern
Pittsburgh’s home for new plays just opened another world premiere commission, Louder Faster. Making a play from scratch requires a lot of teamwork, a concept that costume designer Michael Krass is no stranger to. Another concept he’s no stranger to is creating a period-specific design. Louder Faster is a play about George S. Kaufman, one of the most prolific playwrights of the 20th century. Kaufman’s heyday was between the World Wars, so the play is set in 1937. Krass had the challenge of providing an appropriate and telling wardrobe for each of the characters to be portrayed – including an FBI agent and a “lady of the night-time!”
Below, Krass shares a few of the principles that guided him in creating his design for Louder Faster.
Michael Krass: Even though the play is a comedy, I didn’t really aim for funny while I was designing the costumes. I aimed for character-appropriate and period specific, letting the dialogue and actors do funny.
Before I could really get started, I had to decide with Tracy [Brigden, Artistic Director at City Theatre and director of Louder Faster] how realistic to make my design, and work with her to determine the time and place. Together, we also had to find the tone of the production, making sure all the designs would fit smoothly into the production as a whole.
I then worked with the actors to help them create their characters. It is important to me that I understand the body and personae of the performers themselves, apart from their character. Then we searched for as much period clothing as possible (at least 60% of it is from the thirties), and made sure that it was introduced into rehearsals to benefit the performers as they worked, and benefitted the play itself.
Krass provided the performers with the some of the tools to bring this brilliant comedy to life. The “Designing Louder Faster” series will continue with more behind the scenes looks at other technical elements. Keep checking back for more exciting design features. To reserve tickets or for more information about Louder Faster, call 412-431-CITY (2489).