Protests and (Not) Looking Pretty

I wasn’t going to talk much about my production design work this semester, but then I saw this article on the protests happening right now . Judging by my instant ‘Oh I know what to wear to a protest!’ before I even clicked on the link, I definitely still feel strongly about the message of the production and my experiences even though it closed on Sunday.

My university’s production of Waiting for Lefty was a reaction to the Wisconsin protests that took place this past year when labor unions were threatened with the loss of collective bargaining rights. The director staged the production during a contemporary union meeting, and (spoilers!) in the end, they strike.

Contemporary clothing, even high fashion contemporary clothing, isn’t something that I deal with much in cosplay. And it’s a totally different story when you’re not dressing your own body. The illusion of familiarity with contemporary clothing was a challenge, because it’s a vocabulary that the actors and the audience speaks, and because all of the things I like and don’t like about what I (and other people) wear on the street came out in my instinctive design choices. A college student’s Vogue-laced impression of clothing wasn’t necessarily the best look for these characters. The show was all about the background characters of America, and for me, about learning how to preserve that ‘everyman’ look while allowing them to be heard.

I speak a little about my opinion on the relationship between cosplay and a career in costume design in Steven Savage’s recently published book, Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers. I interviewed with him before Waiting for Lefty really began, but if anything, working on this production cemented my conclusion that A doesn’t necessarily equal B. What did change was this: if you are a serious cosplayer, I cannot more highly recommend taking any opportunity to see how costuming works in a theatrical or film production.  There have been things I’ve picked up from cosplay that help in the theater world, and vice versa, but it’s not about the technical details like that. It’s about seeing what happens when an individual piece fits into something much greater than the sum of its parts. That’s a perspective you can take to masquerades, to group cosplay, and to the entire American cosplay community.

About these ads

About greyrondo

My name is greyrondo. I've been a cosplayer since Fall 2006, and I've noticed that the best conversations I have with cosplayers usually involve the question, 'so how DID you do that?' So after studying costuming and making a closet's worth of costumes, that's what I'd like to help answer. Drop in and stay awhile whether you're a cosplayer or just a curious spectator; one of my musings is bound to be what you're looking for. If you have a question or something to say, leave a comment or contact me! I don't bite, I promise. View all posts by greyrondo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: