A Call for Equal Support in Theatrical Design

by Elsa Hiltner

Technical theatre is comprised of designing and constructing. In some areas of design, those roles are separated, and separately compensated. Set and lighting designers overwhelmingly have a technical director and master electrician hired by the company to execute a designer’s plan, even at smaller, non-equity, and storefront theatres. In contrast, costume designers are left to their own devices at all but the largest institutions. Without the support of a technician, costume designers have their hands in each step of bringing the design to the stage—measuring actors, drafting patterns, building costumes, shopping, coordinating rentals, fittings, completing alterations, writing up laundry instructions, coordinating understudy costumes, returns, budgets, the occasional mid-run maintenance, and strike. The stitchers and assistants they work with are usually interviewed and hired by the costume designer and are paid from the designer’s fee, or occasionally the costume budget if there’s room. 

An Ephemeral Village in London

by Howard Sherman

A Visit into Punchdrunk’s Fallow Cross

Exiting the London tube at the Tottenham Hale station, it is not at all apparent that there’s a tiny throwback village in the vicinity. Indeed, without being given the specific address, one would have to be very focused to discover, like the protagonist of a fantasy novel, the tiny label over a door buzzer on a side street that says “Punchdrunk,” the name of the famed immersive theatre company best known in the U.S. for its long-running New York hit, Sleep No More. But with proper direction, a visitor can find the teeny company logo in a short list of firms on an entirely unremarkable looking, low slung commercial building, with attached warehouses.

Just Desserts

by Bryan Johnson
in How-To

Every stage production has a story to tell, and for the props artisan, a new world of opportunity. The chance to design, create, and breathe life into otherwise “normal” and commonly overlooked items that lend themselves to the world you are helping to create. While a prop request can be challenging, it can also be fun, rewarding and educational. You’ll get to learn new techniques and develop processes that can be added to your tool box. Experiences you will definitely use again. Among those tools often called upon are those needed to create non-edible food that makes the mouth water, including delectable desserts. Here are my recipes for two desserts so realistic you will need to put a disclaimer on the prop table.

Moving the Story

by Michael Eddy

A Conversation with Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood, Part 1

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with designer Jason Sherwood about his approach to scenic design. There was much I wanted to discuss with him about his evocative use of movement, both through automation but also his static scenic elements that create a sense of movement, as well as his affinity for ceilings on sets. He also does some incredibly detailed theatrical environments that transport audiences. A lot to discuss with an interesting designer, so we will present that conversation in parts and this month we have Sherwood’s thoughts on movement through automation.

Speaking Her Truth Q&A with Costume Designer Elsa Hiltner

by Lisa Mulcahy

Elsa Hiltner’s skill, intelligence, and curiosity have contributed to her accomplishments as a costume designer for theater, film, dance, and events during her 10-year-career. Based in Chicago and working nationwide, Hiltner holds a BA in costume design from Western Washington University, and a wigs and hair production certificate from DePaul University. A company member of Collaboration Theatre Company and an artistic associate with First Folio Theatre, Hiltner’s costume design work includes an impressive list of theater companies, including work for Steppenwolf, Next Act, Lifeline Theatre, Teatro Vista, American Blues Theater, Walkabout Theatre, American Theater Company, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Stone Soup Theatre Project, Balagan Theatre, and Signal Ensemble. Hiltner’s interest in Middle Eastern dress is a great influence for her, and she’s studied fashion history in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and Morocco.