Ahead of the premiere of Daughters of Leda, costume designer Stephanie Parks shares insights into the process and inspiration behind the costumes that will appear on stage. See them for yourself in Daughters of Leda at the Katzen Arts Center Studio Theatre November 1–4. Tickets are $10-$15 free for AU students with ID. Directed by Shanara Gabrielle and Angelisa Gillyard.
Parks is a professional costume designer and recent MFA graduate of the University of Maryland who has worked on costume design for dozens of theatre productions across the country. “I have been interested in costume design since I was eight years old,” she says. “I feel lucky that I know exactly what I want to do.”
The AU Department of Performing Arts’ production of Daughters of Leda by Madeline Sayet updates ancient Greek mythologies with familiar characters including Leda, Helen, Clytemnestra, Iphigenia, and Electra. “It is a challenge approaching this type of show—there is so much history in the characters, so much canon,” says Parks. “I relied on our design team and our dramaturg, Fiona Rose Murphey, to research the background I needed to explore the characters.” While the familiar dress of Ancient Greece grounds the designs—flowing fabrics, strappy sandals, and simple silhouettes—many elements have been brought into the 21st century to match Sayet’s contemporary storytelling.
Between working with directors, other designers, and students, the costume process is a highly collaborative process. For example, certain costumes were chosen to create a reflective effect against the floor, and there’s a light-up necklace that Parks worked on with lighting designer Yannick Godts. Cast members also provide their own input into the designs. “Students are becoming, embodying these characters and they have insights that I don’t have because they’re working closely with the script,” Parks says.
“Leda is a strong and resilient character, so her costume reflects her strength. In a structured top and commanding skirt, Leda strikes a powerful figure in her exaggerated silhouette. The drape across her body brings in the Greek influence and completes her look.”
“Helen’s beauty is legendary. Her costume accentuates her infamously gorgeous complexion in its simplicity. By choosing a neutral tone and simple silhouette, Helen strikes an impressive figure.”
“The fates are ancient denizens of the underworld. Just as they manipulate the strings of the set, their costumes are constructed of interwoven string to connect them to their environment. In grey, white, and black with hints of red beneath, Spin, Measure, and Cut stand out from the rest of the characters.”
Learn more about Stephanie Parks.