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Life Is a Stage to Set and Dress for SCR's Theatrical Designer

April 02, 1993|ROSE APODACA

Theatrical designer Dwight Richard Odle offered a gregarious presentation on his role at South Coast Repertory to two dozen members of the Center 500 club Tuesday night at Stage Four of the Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

Odle walked members through the steps he takes to design costumes, scenery and lighting for a production. The job requires him to consider every detail from the fringe on a shawl to the fringe on a chair, from the colors of the stage wardrobe to the colors of the stage lighting.

Through the use of sketches, blueprints and miniature models, a theatrical designer communicates his vision to costume makers and milliners, light technicians, prop builders and a host of other players involved behind the scenes.

He explained how to handle a "good actor with wrong hair" (use a wig) and a period piece (have extensive research and avoid antique clothes because the fabric is dead). And when the right Queen Anne desk can't be found? Make an antique reproduction.

The key to setting the right scene with sets and costumes, says Odle, is to find "characteristic details" in the particular culture or period that's being represented. Pattern combinations and colors can evoke a people, place or time.

His least favorite wardrobe to design? "Current costuming," he says, "is the most difficult because it's so subjective to current tastes."

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