Costume Design

The Costume Design for Remotely Kyōgen was a result of the collaboration between 3 different Costume Designers; Isabella Dixon (MFA Costume Design Candidate,) Hannah Schauer (UHM Costume Shop Manager,) and Maile Speetjens (UHM Assistant Professor of Costume Design.) As this production was composed of a number of individual pieces, individual pieces were allocated between the three designers, and they internally collaborated to ensure that all of the pieces were looking cohesive and of the same production. From outer space to the mango orchards of Kaua’i to the world of Kyomedia (Kyōgen-commedia,) the Costume Design team was responsible for the design and execution of these pieces.

Because Remotely Kyōgen was rehearsed and performed remotely, all Costume fittings also needed to be conducted remotely. This involved orchestrating getting performers clothing (either through pickup appointments or shipments) and “zoom fittings and screen tests” where the Costume team would fit clothing, explore makeup designs, and check clothing against that notoriously fickle green screen to ensure that costumes read properly against the digital scenic elements. 

In summation, the design process from start to finish was a great experience, full of discoveries, opportunities for artistic expression, and some much-needed joy and laughter! We hope that you enjoy viewing this as much as we enjoyed creating it!

Mango Yamabushi & MushZooms 2.0

Mango Yamabushi and MushZooms 2.0 are both very different pieces. Mango Yamabushi takes place on Kauaʻi and centers around a yamabushi on a pilgrimage, who is overcome by hunger, begins snacking on a farmer’s mangoes, and as is wont to happen in kyōgen, antics ensue! For this piece it was important to us as a design team to move visually from the traditionally represented kyōgen, presented by our partners in Japan, and slowly take our pieces in a more and more free-form direction. Mango Yamabushi being the first up, it is the most traditional. However, while the Yamabushi’s dressing style is that of a traditional kyōgen yamabushi, he wears the white colors of a modern day Japanese yamabushi, thus combining both the modern with the traditional. The Farmer, on the other hand, is from Kauaʻi, and so while according to traditional kyōgen dressing, that character would wear a kataginu, we cut that component, and transformed the hakama into pleated pants. The kimono was made out of a traditional Hawaiian fabric, palaka. The mon (crests) they both wear represents both the action of the play, and the place – a chicken on the Yamabushi, and plumerias on the Farmerʻs pants are both reflective of where and when we are.

MushZooms 2.0 follows the traditional structure of a kyōgen, but takes place very much in the here and now, our modern Zoom-scape! It follows a woman who works from home, who is having some… mushroom-y problems with her Zoom. She contacts a Zoom IT specialist, and that’s all I’ll say! It was a delight to design and work on, and I hope you enjoy both Mango Yamabushi and MushZooms 2.0 and all their lovely shenanigans!

– Isabella Dixon

For more costume information for MushZooms 2.0, please click here for more info. But be warned, the page does contain spoilers so we recommend you come back after you have seen the show!

Costume rendering for the Yamabushi's costume in Mango Yamabushi.

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A costume rendering of a person in a white kimono, white hakama tied up under the knee, a small black hat, and green bobbles around their neck against a gold background.

Mask Confusion & Great Great Grandma Reitzal

Mask Confusion presented the unique challenge of containing two commedia dell’arte characters smack dab in the middle of a kyōgen piece! The major consideration that was brought up in early design meetings was the question of balance: how do we see the iconic characters being presented without being jarring or out of balance visually? Eventually, we landed on the idea of creating contemporary iterations of these iconic characters by finding contemporary counterparts to silhouettes and color palettes. This train of thought led us to kataginu being translated to a blazer-cape for our Mistress, and a wide hooded jacket with the iconically Hawaiian spam musubi mon for our Tarō. Our commedia dell’arte characters kept their quintessential masks (designed by Catherine Restivo,) and color palettes, leading to a bright red and black skinny jean-clad Pantalone, and a harlequin print aloha shirt for Arlecchino. 

Similarly, Great Great Grandma Reitzel focused and emphasized the role of the storyteller. By clothing our performer in all black, our focus is drawn to their hands, face, and scarf. This scarf was utilized as a morphable object, shifting to a sailor’s tie to a shawl, to a nun’s habit, all with the flick of a wrist!

– Maile Speetjens

Costume rendering for the Mistress by Maile Speetjens.

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A costume rendering of a woman in a horizontally patterned long sleeved shirt with grey pants and a grey cape jacket draped over her shoulders.

Earthbound

I was excited to work on Earthbound as the costume designer because I am a science fiction fan.  The kataginu were the base inspiration for my design concept.  To me they have always seemed a bit space age.  I worked in metallic fabrics to give the piece an old school sci-fi feel.  It was a joy to incorporate little pieces of sci-fi lore into the piece.  I was able to represent Star Trek, Star Wars, and Call of Cthulhu. Tarō Kaja and Jirō Kaja became the red shirts.  The mon (logos) for each character were pulled from Star Wars, Cthulhu, and a piece of fabric specific to our teachers’ company.  Placed with the magnificent scenery, the piece came together as its own science fiction adventure.

– Hannah Schauer

Clayton Searcy as Martian Jirō in a costume fitting for Earthbound.

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A screenshot of an actor standing in front of a pokemon virtual background wearing a red turtleneck, a silver vest with a black and white crest, and black headset.