Costume Design for O Lovely Glowworm

In 2011 I designed costumes for O Lovely Glowworm at the New Century Theatre Company. 

New York-based director Roger Benington (also the scenic designer) led the production team, which included local award-winning theatre artists including lighting designer Andrew D. Smith and sound designer Robertson Witmer, both of whom I had had the pleasure to work with on past productions.

Written by Glen Berger in 2005, O Lovely Glowworm is a magical Irish fairy tale told through the eyes of a dead, stuffed goat, tethered to a garbage heap. The goat tries to escape the endless pain and suffering of his life by retreating into an inner world of his own imagination. The story moves through time like a dream and several different plots are revealed – a WWI deserter, lying dead in a swamp; a young, goat-owning, would-be inventor and his sick mother in a cottage; and later, a boisterous WWI soldier, and a mermaid who floats into a scene on a bar of soap. The characters in the story transcend time and place, and as a result, every actor in the company had fast-paced costume changes, including the goat, who played over seven additional characters. (If it sounds wild and impactful to you, I can assure you it was – though not the wildest thing I have ever put on a stage.)

The visual vocabulary for O Lovely Glowworm was clear from very early design discussions. We were to experience the aesthetics of the production through the eyes of the goat, employing a goat’s innate desire for trash. Director Roger Benington created a world that included a 30-foot-tall paper moon set and several large swans that rotated to reveal cottage interiors painted with graphic WWI period advertisements. I researched Edwardian period fashion, WWI military uniform, and deconstructed high fashion. Deconstructed fashion is the dismantling of traditional garments and the reassembling of elements of those garments to show an exposed (and in this case, recycled) aesthetic. Deconstructionist aesthetics seemed to be the perfect approach for the trash-like concept of my costume design. 

As NCTC did not have a dedicated costume shop staff or costume crew, I was responsible for both the design and execution of costumes for the production. I always strive to include my students in my scholarship and creative work and on this particular production, I utilized their skills to successfully execute my designs. Six Seattle University students were part of the production team on O Lovely Glowworm.

I received the Gypsy Rose Lee Award for Excellence in Costume Design and a Gregory Award nomination for Outstanding Costume Designer for my work.