Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Secret of Utopia: artfully hidden zippers!

  • Precious little on the news front, so below are the Utopia-related bits from Catherine Zuber's interview about her work as a costume designer for Downstage Center.

About the process from idea to finished product:

[...] There were 600 costumes, and I did a sketch for every costume. ... I had to, I had to know what was going on. ... If I didn't have a sketch then I really would be lost. I needed to see where we were going with the images. Maybe if there were three soldiers, I'd do a sketch for one soldier, but for the most part, every idea had a sketch. ...

I choose all the fabrics, I supervise the construction, we have fittings in the costume shops, we have a muslin fitting which means it's in white, inexpensive material just to get the shape and fit, and then we go into...what they call the 'fashion fabric' and add the trims and it's a more complete structure. ...

On the necessary considerations when working in the theatre:

It [a costume] has to last quite a long time, and ... about Coast of Utopia, what's so fascinating is that people have to change clothes quite quickly, so we have these period garments, that really have a lot of historical accuracy to them, except they have a big old zipper down the back - artfully hidden - in order to make the quick changes. ... There are just certain times in a text when you really do need to make a change...when someone is moving through time, from summer to winter, if they've gotten older, or if they've got a change in their circumstances - that needs to be reflected in what they wear. ... In a play like The Coast of Utopia with so many scenes, and an ensemble company, there were so many zippers in those clothes! ...
On the closing of a production:
I love when it goes away actually and becomes a memory...I love it when it's a reality, but there's something about a project like Coast of Utopia - which is now closed - that's wonderful. ... What you take away from that experience, and the art form of that experience, is the memory. ... What you brought to all the audiences that went to see it, and how it is also a memory for them, is very moving for me - more so than I could ever hope to experience from doing fine art. [...]

Amazingly however, The Coast of Utopia was not Ms Zuber's largest project to date -on a production in Switzerland in 1999, she had 6000 costumes to deal with! вот те на! (Goodness gracious!)

  • Meanwhile another exciting project is soon to make an appearance. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - which opens in October - stars not only Rosemary Harris, but also Ethan Hawke and Brian F. O'Byrne! Although this of course preceded Utopia, still, what are the chances!

Gregg Goldstein of Reuters has a little info on the project:

ThinkFilm has picked up all North American rights to Sidney Lumet's crime thriller "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. Hoffman, an Oscar-winner for "Capote," will play a drug addict who hatches a plan with his brother (Hawke) to rob a jewelry store owned by their parents (Finney, Rosemary Harris). As the web of betrayal extends to the wife of Hoffman's character (Tomei) and an accomplice, things begin to go terribly wrong.

The 83-year-old Lumet describes the film, which jumps back and forth in time, as a Rubik's Cube of unfolding plot twists and emotional relationships. Several indie distributors were circling the $10 million-plus feature, in part because of its Oscar winners (Lumet, Hoffman, Tomei) and nominees (Finney, Hawke, Harris), but the director said he felt most comfortable with ThinkFilm because of U.S. theatrical head Mark Urman.

The film opens October 17 in Los Angeles, New York and possibly Toronto before expanding to the top 40 urban markets.

  • Lastly, if you are suffering from Utopia Nostalgia and have already read Russian Thinkers from cover to cover, an interesting book called Motherland by Lesley Chamberlain includes yet another discussion of our favourite men: Herzen, Belinsky, Bakunin, Stankevich and Turgenev.

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