Mask Confusion & Great Great Grandma Reitzal Costumes

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 Ann 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 from a sailor’s tie to a shawl, to a nun’s habit, all with the flick of a wrist!

– Maile Speetjens