For many Central Indiana families, attending the IRT’s A Christmas Carol each season is a celebrated holiday tradition. But even the most dedicated attendees might not realize that the current costume design was first introduced to IRT audiences in 1997.
In the two decades since Murell Horton’s beloved design premiered, small changes and updates have been made out of necessity, but in large part, the design remains remarkably intact. That is, until this summer! While the Theatre is dark, the IRT will undertake one of the largest design projects in recent IRT history: a full redesign of the A Christmas Carol costumes.
According to production Director and IRT Associate Artistic Director, Benjamin Hanna, the redesign could not have come at a better time. “The costumes have served us well but they are tired and ready for a reboot,” said Hanna. “There were so many pieces that would need to be rebuilt before this season’s production. Looking at the original designs, the fabrics needed to make the repairs… we realized it was going to be cost and time prohibitive to continue to refresh the old costumes each season.”
With over thirty characters to outfit, the redesign is no small undertaking. But it is in capable hands with costume design powerhouse, Linda Pisano, at the helm. Pisano, Chairperson and Professor at the IU Bloomington Department of Theatre and Dance, and frequent designer at the IRT, is an ideal choice for this monumental task. Importantly, she is familiar with the Theatre’s costume shop facility and artisans, but she is also keyed into the emotional impact that seeing A Christmas Carol has on Central Indiana families.
Pisano shared, “The tradition of IRT’s A Christmas Carol is part of the annual gathering of many families in the region. To be part of the artistic team that creates this long held and valued tradition is wonderful.”
Pisano also recognized the impact that a magical live theatre experience can have on audience members. “I wanted to be part of a project that cultivates a love of live performance and an opportunity for family and friends to come together in a shared experience of live theatre,” she said.
Long-time fans of the IRT’s holiday show may be wondering what to expect, with a new costume design coming to the stage. Hanna shared that the overarching vision for the costumes will be appropriate for the period in which Dickens presents the story. The costumes will also have a close relationship with the iconic “field of snow” scenic design and the IRT building itself.
“In the ghost’s new garments, Pisano has brilliantly referenced the patina of the exposed columns in the production’s set design. The ghosts will sparkle with layers of fabric covered in ice,” said Hanna.
Pisano also shared the important role that research and the original Dickens’ text has played in her design process.
“I personally have gone back deep into the novel and pulled out details, some subtle and some obvious,” she said. “For example, Dickens writes about the soot and industry of London of his day. The distressing of the costumes and the overall feel of the Cratchit family will reflect this. The sense of class division will be clear.”
Pisano has also shrewdly allowed the characters to inform the design. “Even though Mrs. Cratchit is incredibly poor, probably getting fabric from the rag pickers of the streets, she probably would have been very skilled in sewing and may even put in a lot of pin tucks and embroidery to liven up the old clothes. I’d like to reflect this juxtaposition of craftsmanship in the context of clothing that looks very distressed.”
Despite the theatrical illusion of distress on the final pieces, longevity of the newly built costumes is vitally important. The IRT Costume Shop artisans have been tasked to make sure the pieces are built to last. Durable materials will be a priority, and generous seam and hem allowances will allow the shop to make easy adjustments from year to year. The hope is that this new costume design will last for many seasons to come.
This Indy holiday tradition is on stage November 16 - December 26.
Henry Woronicz is well-known to IRT audiences for his portrayals of commanding and complex characters such as Antonin Scalia in The Originalist, Mark Rothko in Red, and The Poet in An Iliad. He has also directed IRT’s rousing renditions of Romeo and Juliet and The Three Musketeers. We caught up with Henry in anticipation of his return in this fall’s production of Twelve Angry Men.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE ROLE TO PLAY, SO FAR?
The best thing, perhaps, is to give you a list of a number of my favorite roles to date: The title roles in Peer Gynt, Richard III, and Cyrano de Bergerac, the role of Falstaff in Henry IV part One, and The Duke in Measure for Measure have all been very satisfying and special for me. Specifically at IRT, I would say Marc Rothko in Red, and of course The Poet in An Iliad.
WHAT IS A DREAM ROLE YOU HOPE TO PLAY SOMEDAY?
I have played King Lear once already, and very much look forward to doing it again at some point in time. A deep and endless challenge, it’s a role that always calls to an actor. I would also very much like to play Hickey in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. And anything in a Chekhov play…
IF YOU WEREN’T AN ACTOR, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
I would have to say a painter or writer. I am inherently drawn to the creative spirit, and I believe if I hadn’t found the theatre as a medium of expression, one of the other Arts would have captured me instead.
IF YOU COULD EAT DINNER WITH ANYONE, ALIVE OR DEAD, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Dead: William Shakespeare. I mean, just because…!! A living person would have to be Bruce Springsteen. I have grown up with his music and spirit and he remains a modern day heroic bard to me.
FOR WHAT IN YOUR LIFE DO YOU FEEL MOST GRATEFUL?
I am most grateful for the fact that I have created a full and satisfying life as a performing artist in America, a country which is not always conducive to allowing such a life to happen. And also that as a young artist I fell into, somewhat by accident, the works of Shakespeare, which profoundly altered my perspectives on life, truth, and the nature of art, and continues to do so to this day.
Our thanks to Henry for answering our questions for this issue! Is there an IRT artist you would like to see featured or for whom you have a specific question? Drop us a line! Email Jennifer Turner at email@example.com using the subject line Ask the Artist.
IRT donors have told us that they love getting ticket discounts as a part of their donor appreciation benefits, and we listened! This season we have refreshed and expanded our benefit offerings, and introduced some fun ticketing perks. Read more below, and visit us at IRTLIVE.COM/SUPPORT/INDIVIDUAL-GIVING to see the full slate of benefits for the 2019-2020 Season.
DISCOUNTS ON SINGLE TICKETS (NEW!)
We are excited to offer donors giving $300 or more an exclusive discount when you purchase single tickets to any IRT Mainstage or Upperstage performance. Donors will receive a special code that can be used anytime you need to purchase single tickets. Depending on your support level, you can access discounts anywhere from 30% – 50% off the ticket price!
COMPLIMENTARY TICKETS (EXPANDED!)
Once offered only to donors giving $3,000 or more a year, we are now offering complimentary ticket vouchers to supporters giving $750 and up. Ticket vouchers can be redeemed for yourself or given to family members or friends, and are valid for any public performance in the IRT’s 2019-2020 season.
INVITATION TO A TECHNICAL REHEARSAL (EXPANDED!)
Donors giving $300 or more to the IRT will receive an invitation to join us for a Technical Rehearsal for an upcoming production. You will get a guided tour of the set, and then be invited to sit in the audience while our director, designers and actors work to bring everything together before opening night.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN TOUR INVITATIONS (EXPANDED!)
All donors to the IRT will now receive periodic invitations to join us for a tour of the IRT’s historic building and performance spaces. Get an insider’s look at what is happening backstage and in our artisan shops, and learn more about the history of the iconic Indiana Theatre building.
ARE THERE OTHER BENEFITS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE FROM THE IRT? CONTACT US AT KSWANKHERZOG@IRTLIVE.COM AND LET US KNOW!
Did you know that your business can entertain clients, celebrate employees, and support the IRT, all at the same time? Performance Sponsorship is an accessible, entry-level sponsorship providing businesses with a unique opportunity to engage clients and colleagues in a special night, enjoying exclusive hospitality and world-class entertainment while being recognized as true patrons of the arts!
Performance Sponsorship of an IRT production includes the following benefits:
“Schmidt Associates found Performance Sponsorship to be the perfect choice for our annual outing. It provided fantastic entertainment in a beautiful setting and sparked conversations that continued well beyond the actual event.” — Wayne Schmidt, Schmidt Associates
Performance Sponsorship allows your business to take center stage, and creates a special experience your associates are sure to remember. For more information please contact Eric Olson, Institutional Giving Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317.916.4832.
Signature Six Season Ticket holders have the ability to exchange their tickets for a new performance date without incurring fees! Read on to learn more about this ticketing perk created to accommodate even the most hectic of schedules.
EXCHANGING WITHIN A PRODUCTION Signature Six Season ticket holders may exchange their tickets for any other performance within that production. There is no fee to exchange if done before your original performance date, and you only pay if you move into a more expensive performance (for instance, from a Wednesday to a Saturday.) Ticket exchanges are available after your performance date for a $15 per-ticket late exchange fee.
If you cannot make your scheduled performance but have not yet selected a new date, call the Ticket Office to release your seats. If done in advance of your performance, you may call back at a later date to choose another performance without incurring the late exchange fee.
TRADE-A-PLAY Signature Six Seated Season Ticket Holders also have the Trade-A-Play option, which allows one ticket exchange into any other Signature Six production without fees. It is perfect for those who may be traveling and will miss a production entirely.
REPERTORY SOCIETY MEMBERS RECEIVE EXPANDED TICKETING BENEFITS If you donate $1,500 or more annually to the IRT, you can access an expanded list of ticket benefits during the season, including:
Season Ticket Holders—to exchange your tickets contact the Ticket Office at 317.635.5252 or email@example.com
Repertory Society Members—to access expanded ticketing benefits contact Lindsey Horan at 317.916.4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FROM THE WINGS
From the Wings is a biannual newsletter exclusively for donors to the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
Did you know that more than 7% of all charitable giving is now done online? You can support the IRT in less than five minutes!
Have an idea for a future article, an artist you want to see featured, or just have a question or comment? Contact us at email@example.com.