Here's costume designer Smaranda Branescu on her costumes for The Good Person of Setzuan, directed by Penny Metropolus, which opened in February at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Branescu points out that the concept for the design reflects the combination between the historically fable-like and the strong realistic social quality of the play:
"We placed the play between the 1940s and 50s in a retroactive way, in the way a Chinese person would view the Western world, or a longtime immigrant resident in America would reproduce the old country from a European postcard. It's meant to be completely non-realistic. After all, it's a German play, which is set in China and played by American actors!
"The social differences between the characters are realized through the use of fabrics ranging from plain, generic cottons and linens to more expensive gabardines and silks, and finally, golden and red Oriental brocades for the gods.
"We've taken a humorous approach for the gods. First, they are culturally eclectic. Then, on their journey on earth, they become tired, starting to lose parts of their garments to the point of wearing briefs and tennis shoes. Their sophisticated, kingly headwear becomes practical objects of survival. One hat has a light bulb, which goes on and off; another hat becomes a container for popcorn, etc.
"I like to work progressively, and so does Penny. So, new ideas still might come up."