Catriona Morris is a Costume Designer, Cosplayer, and Hair/Makeup Artist from Sudbury, Massachusetts. Her work includes Burlesque and Drag as well as Theatre, and she enjoys switching roles to perform in those disciplines on occasion. She enjoys high drama, fashion disasters, and anything that could be described as “gothic.”
Emerson Stage talks with Catriona about her work as Costume Designer for Stupid F##king Bird
Watch Catriona’s interview and scenes from a costume fitting:
What was the process like for developing these costumes?
At first, it was a lot of reading up on my Chekhov and on the history of The Seagull. I think it’s crucial to know where a play came from in order to do an adaptation justice, to make sure things don’t get lost in translation. Then it was a series of conversations with the director and the other designers; getting a feel for the world our show should be set in and what we want conceptually. Seeing the cast was also a big step in the process, especially because we had discussed gender-blind casting. Essentially, I’d sketch some ideas, review it with them, sketch some more, and rinse/repeat until I had what you’ll see on stage!
What was it like to work with the director in developing these designs?
Working with a director close to my age has been so much fun because we share this very niche vernacular in terms of describing ideas. I can say “I want Mash to look “grunge blob couture” and she knows exactly what I mean, which is hilarious!
What costume was the most challenging to design and think up?
It’s gotta be Nina’s finale look, just because it’s such a lynchpin in driving home how much she’s changed. There’s a lot thematically loaded in that scene that I need to get across with just an outfit, which was a fun challenge to grapple with.
Which costume are you most excited see come to life?
Emma’s main ensemble, for sure! It’s one of two outfits that we’re making from scratch, and it’s the most complicated build by far. She’s such a stylish character, and I think she cares a lot about aesthetics, so it was so much fun designing her look. I’m also crazy about the fabric I found for her, so it’s really exciting to see it come together.
Were there any technical concerns that you had to take into consideration when designing these costumes?
I actually dodged a bullet in this respect – an early pitch for the set design was to have the characters be rolling around in dirt the whole show! This, of course, was bound to be a pain for the entire costume department. Would we have to wash these clothes every night? Would we need duplicates? Back-up plans? As cool as the dirt idea was, not having to work with it certainly makes my job a lot easier.
Have you ever designed costumes before? If yes, for what shows?
Actually, I have a specialization in hair and makeup design – usually, I’m just hired for that, or as an assistant. The first show that I costumer entirely myself was EmShakes’ Eurydice last spring, which was a great experience to get under my belt.
Do you have a dream show that you’d like to design?
Oh, too many shows to count! I’d kill to work on anything Takarazuka Revue creates – I love their camp and extravagance, and working with a cast of all women creates a cool dynamic of gender and dress that I’d love to dig into more.
See Catriona’s designs in Stupid F##king Bird September 26 through 29 in the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theater. Tickets $12 for General Public and $8 for Emerson Community: emersontheatres.org.