Threads of Margo Veil
By By Caroline Cropp ’99, ’06M
For UNCW's production of Len Jenkins' Margo Veil in April, Emmy Weldon '12 was charged with the daunting task of dressing 12 actors in 50 different roles. A few of the characters in the film noir production that she had to outfit included a playboy playwright, a crazed cowboy and a blind Lithuanian girl.
Recently recognized by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle as the best production of 2011, Margo Veil is the story of a femme fatale who inadvertently commits murder and to escape, undergoes an identity shift at a "translation parlor" run by Big Betty and Dwayne. Margo shifts into two different characters (played by different actors) and each shift brings about a change in the feel of the show.
"To create multiple environments we integrated filmic elements and projections, in essence, blending live action within cinematic landscapes," said Paul Castagno, theatre professor and show director.
While Weldon had experience as a scene designer for UNCW's production of The Wild Duck and also for the student lab series productions of Mr. Marmalade and The Pillowman. Margo Veil was her first full-fledged costume design production.
Theatre professors Mark D. Sorensen and Max Lydy outlined the financial and physical logistical challenges of dressing the ensemble cast to Weldon - obviously, there can't be 50 complete costume changes in an 80-minute show without an intermission.
In the months prior to production, Weldon pored over old Sears catalogues and conducted online searches. She clipped images and made collages for each character, compiling all into a master costume binder. Her aim in costuming was to capture the classically exaggerated moments - in keeping with the film noir style - with hints of Lithuanian color.
In choosing and creating the wardrobe for each character, she started with the actor and how he or she was going to go through the character. Each cast member goes through an incarnation. Fittingly, Weldon creatively designed pieces to go over basics - the layers of clothing matching the character's layers.
She didn't just pick a pair of black pants - she looked for a subtle pattern in the fabric to reveal character nuances. The narrator of the play, for example, is dressed in all-black suit with multicolored pinstripes, each color corresponding with a character.
What was most gratifying about the costume design to Weldon was the manifestation - to "sit and see" what began in her imagination play out on the stage.
Weldon planns to attend graduate school at Ohio University. Her goal is be a scenographer.
"After this experience, I can stake that claim," she says. "I'm ready."