At 8 p.m tonight in the Stieren Theater, Trinity Theatre will open its production of â€œOur Countryâ€™s Goodâ€ by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Â Based on a true story, the play follows the first Western settlers in Australia. All costumes featured in the play are designed by the world renowned designer Virgil C. Johnson.
â€œOur costume designer Jodi Karjala and scene designer Sarah Martin were Virgilâ€™s students at Northwestern,â€ said Stacey Connelly, director. â€œHe retired and is now working as a freelance artist, which is why he was available since he didnâ€™t have his usual university obligations.â€
Johnson is the Stieren guest artist and spoke on Nov. 1 about his experience with costume designing and how he applied this experience to the designs for Trinityâ€™s production of â€œOur Countryâ€™s Good.â€
â€œMy question was, given the abstraction of the set, what do we want to do with the clothes? Are they just clothing? What do they look like? Costumes are becoming more and more of an authentic representation of what clothing would have looked like,â€ Johnson said during his lecture.
Since the action of the play is rooted in a specific time period, ensuring that the costumes reflect the time was a main point of concern for the overall production.
â€œThe uniforms of the military officials are really important, because ranking and social hierarchy are crucial to the plot,â€ said Chase Lee, a senior. â€œBecause of that, itâ€™s important that all of our uniforms are historically accurate.â€
Johnson is famed for his designs in period costumes.
â€œIâ€™m interested in immersing the actors in the period, which involves an entire range of clothing, wigs and so forth that they are pretty unused to because none of it has a bearing on todayâ€™s clothing,â€ Johnson said.
The playâ€™s characters range from military officials to convictsâ€”as well as a character native to Australiaâ€”all with costumes unique to their status.
â€œBecause of the way that the show is designed and written, the costumes are actually the scenery of the play,â€ Connelly said. â€œThat is not to denigrate the beautiful design that Sarah Martin has come up with, but it is a very neutral design and really the only color on stage will be from lights and the costumes.â€
In the weeks leading up to the playâ€™s opening, each cast member had several fittings and appointments to ensure that all pieces of their costume were created for and fitted to the actor.
â€œIt is pretty cool because most of us are wearing costumes that we have never worn before,â€ Lee said. â€œTo have something specifically made for you by an expert recognized in the field has been a really interesting experience.â€
Johnsonâ€™s costumes will be brought to life when â€œOur Countryâ€™s Goodâ€ opens tonight in Stieren Theater.