District Merchants costume designer Meghan Raham previously designed the sets for the Folger Theatre productions of The Conference of the Birds and Romeo and Juliet. Learn about her design process for this “Uneasy Comedy” below, and join us for District Merchants starting May 31. Research and design sketches courtesy of Meghan.
From Meghan –
“In designing a play, I try to reflect the content (character, plot, situational facts), but also to reflect the form of the piece (style, genre, tone—the way the content is being shared with us). In District Merchants, the characters and plot are inspired by The Merchant of Venice and transposed into Reconstruction-era Washington, D.C., but Aaron’s style also gives us characters who speak directly to us, and share with us that they are telling us this story. They are both people in the room with us now, and also characters in a play in the 1870s.”
“This form choice gave us some freedom in thinking about how “period” the clothing should be, and so in my early research for each character I looked both for images of who this character would be if we created an entirely 1870s world, and also who they would be now.”
“Ultimately, we settled on a sort of theatricalized, fabled version of Victorian clothing—a storytelling version—that feels like we are looking at that time through a modern lens and sensibility. It’s Victorian enough to help us imagine we’re in another time, but also accessible enough to feel like we’re having a contemporary conversation about who we are now, and maybe how we got here.”
” It’s also a new play, so we’re learning new things about its inhabitants as we go! I’ve learned much from having the actors in fittings and seeing them in rehearsal. We start the rehearsal process with the renderings as a map to where we think we’d like to go, but may take some detours along the way…”