I’ve always loved the potential for storytelling in the choices one makes in costume design. In Mrs. Hawking, we used a series of oppositional color pairings to make statements about the characters and their circumstances. In Vivat Regina at Arisia 2016, with the help of costume designer Jennifer Giorno, we devised a new palette to support the new story.
For the leads, they maintained the color schemes they were introduced with in the original. Between her stealth suit and her widow’s weeds, Mrs. Hawking’s color is black. Nathaniel’s splash of color is his familiar red cravat. And Mary, with her maid’s apron and skirt and ballgown, sets the tone for the rest of the play with her blue.
For Vivat Regina, we stuck to a cool, blue-based color palette. Unlike in the previous piece, where high class was indicated by red, we had everyone in the opening ballroom scene in shades of blue. Mary is getting better at blending in, but her obviously lighter shade indicates that she’s not really one of them.
Arthur is of course in a traditional police blue. As a police officer, he will always appear in blue, just as Mary does, which forges a subtle visual connection between them.
For Mrs. Braun, she appears in a dark violet that serves as a subtle hint to the character’s true identity. It’s a blend of the blue of our palette and the red that previously was saved for the upper classes, and this color in particular has traditionally been reserved for the highest ranking members of society in a number of cultures.
For Clara, we wanted something eye-catching and just a little bit daring, so we went with green. It’s a step away from blue, but different enough from any other character to always catch the eye. It tells us that Clara has no trouble fitting into her society, but she can’t help but stand out.
The green even crosses over to Nathaniel in the scene in the embassy. Though his eveningwear included a silver vest and cravat in part one, for part two we decided we wanted him to pick up Clara’s color. It shows them unified as a team.
Finally, the one other coloring shakeup comes in the form of Mrs. Hawking’s dishabille. Her robe is her typical black, but when she’s not dressing for anyone else, some white enters her wardrobe. We’ve never seen her in anything but black before, so even this one small change is eye-catching. Still, her colorless presence keeps her stark against the rest of the cast.
Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina will be performed on May 7th as part of the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016 in Waltham, MA.