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  • B. Dunn Movement: Joan Padeo

Identity and the Body: Part 2

In our last post, we gave you a glimpse of the culmination of Athena Lawton's work with B. Dunn Movement. We also shared a few words from performer Brance Souza.

In our process at this very moment, Brance exists as "The Messenger." In order to build, improvisation is an integral part of our character development. Below you'll find a behind the scenes exploration of "The Messenger" from our most recent workshop. These 3 minutes (pulled from an 11 minute improv) are the first moments Brance was able to work with the costume, and the first time AD Brigette saw the first drafts of the costume put together.

While Brance's character is slowly becoming clearer and clearer, we wanted to hear more from Athena about the EIE process.

As you costume "The Messenger", what are you finding most challenging?

AL: The greatest challenge in costuming any new character is discovering who that character is. Right now the Messenger is very much in development. The character is in the process of being discovered through collaborative experiments and improvisations, under Brigette's guidance from her intuition about the character and the role he serves to the story. Right now my role is to listen, pay attention, ask questions, and channel that into something that Brance can wear. We are not married to any design choices we are making right now, we are purely experimenting and seeing what feels right. I don't consider that a challenge though, I consider it a pleasure!

Is there anything you want to point out about the evolution from costuming the first iteration of ECHO to the immersive version we are creating now?

AL: When Brigette and I first conceived the costumes for Echo in 2014, we were under a lot of limitations. I think that limitations, especially limited time, are really important creatively in figuring out what is essential in a work. We made really strong choices about what was essential to telling that story with our limited time, money, labor and other resources. It was a beautiful collaborative process in which we all brought so many things to the table. Now, we still have many limitations, but the conditions in which we are making this work are very different. The world is a different place, and I am a different person. I was a much younger artist than I am now. I have a stronger sense of how allyship can function as a white artist supporting black art. We must figure out how the new costumes fit into the world that we live in now. Since we first designed those costumes, other artists have made designs that are very similar. We were doing something very cutting edge that is now more commonplace. I am actually glad for that, because it means we are challenged to create something even better and more unique. Just from an aesthetic perspective, we want the new version of Echo to be much more colorful than the monochromatic costumes of the past. We want everything to be bolder and even more avant-garde than it was before. We want to have a stronger presence in the costumes of the massive numbers of kidnapped Africans who were lost in the middle passage, the staggering number of ancestors. We have plans for how to creatively represent that, so that even with a small cast size we will feel the presence of all of those ancestors. We will also be incorporating technology to push the limits of what is possible in theatrical costuming. The costumes will continue evolving as the show evolves.

Join us for our third and final workshop with CultureHub May 15, 2021 at 11:00AM PST. Our workshop is remote– RSVP through our site and join us from the comfort of your own home!


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